The Hankyoreh 21 Rebuttal of the Ministry of Labor calling for distortion

Rebuttal of the Ministry of Labor that caused the distortion controversy [2014.11.03 No. 1034]
[Special Project_Human Rights Table ②] The Ministry of Labor’s rebuttal data to the Human Rights Commission report cited by Amnesty… Ignoring the different standards of the two investigation agencies, only the nuance that ‘the results of the investigation by the Human Rights Commission exaggerated the miserable labor of migrant workers’
» Norma Kang Muiko Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Migrants and Human Rights Investigator (second from left) and New Politics Alliance for Democracy Lawmaker Jang Ha-na (fourth) held a press conference at the National Assembly Hall in Yeouido, Seoul on October 20th. Migrant Labor Report is published. Provided by Amnesty International Korea

Is it a mistake or intentional? Amnesty International’s report on migrant labor in agriculture and livestock in Korea (‘Harvesting the Pain: Exploitation and Forced Labor of Migrant Workers in the Agricultural and Livestock Industry in Korea,’ refer to the cover story of No. 1033), the explanatory material of the Ministry of Employment and Labor, has been criticized for ‘distortion’. engulfed

As soon as Amnesty released the report on October 20, the Ministry of Labor issued seven pages of rebuttal material prepared in advance. The strategy adopted by the Ministry of Labor was to scratch the National Human Rights Commission’s 2013 report (‘Survey on the Human Rights Situation of Migrant Workers in Agricultural and Livestock Industries’). The Human Rights Commission report is the data referenced and cited by Amnesty as a result of a prior investigation. The Ministry of Labor appears to have aimed to lower the credibility of the Amnesty report by proving that the results of the investigation by the Human Rights Commission were exaggerated.

Proportion difference between agricultural and livestock workers

The Ministry of Labor opened the door, saying, “The National Human Rights Commission survey cited in the Amnesty report is very different from the survey conducted by the Immigration Policy Research Institute conducted during the same period.” The Immigration Policy Research Institute survey (‘2013 Survey of Foreign Residents: Employment and Social Life of Foreigners in the Employment Permit System and Visiting Employment System’) is the result of a research service provided by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Labor emphasized that the survey results of the two agencies showed “significant differences”. The average monthly wage of workers was 1.27 million won in the Human Rights Commission investigation, but the Justice Ministry investigated it at 1.33 million won. The average working hours were 283.7 hours per month and 62.6 hours per week, respectively. The Ministry of Labor explained that the number of the Human Rights Commission was high in all areas, including the experience of unpaid wages (68.9% and 5.1%). The nuance is that the results of the investigation by the Human Rights Commission are exaggerating the misery of migrant workers.

‘Along with Migrants’, a research institute conducting the investigation by the Human Rights Commission, was furious at the logic of the Ministry of Labor. According to Together with Migrants, the biggest difference between the two studies is the proportion of agricultural and livestock workers among the migrant workers surveyed. In the Human Rights Commission survey, the proportion of migrant workers in agriculture and livestock was 82% and 16.8%, respectively. In the Ministry of Justice survey, the rates were 42.9% and 40.1%. In both surveys, the working conditions of migrant livestock workers were relatively good. This is the reason why the results of the Ministry of Justice investigation, which has a high proportion of migrant livestock workers, show better working conditions than those of the Human Rights Commission. With Migrants, we separated the responses of agricultural and livestock workers and recompared the surveys of the two institutions. As a result, the research figures of the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Justice were almost identical. As for the average monthly wage, the Human Rights Commission survey found that ‘Agriculture: 1.23 million won, Livestock Industry: 1.44 million won’, and for Legal Affairs, ‘Agriculture: 1.21 million to 1.25 million won, Livestock Industry: 1.44 million won’.

In the case of working hours, the Ministry of Labor compared the Human Rights Commission (an average of 283.7 hours per month) and the Ministry of Justice (62.6 hours per week) using different standards. If changed to the same standard, ‘65.3 hours versus 62.6 hours’ (weekly working hours) and ‘283.7 hours versus 272 hours’ (monthly working hours), respectively. The slightly longer working hours for the Human Rights Commission can also be interpreted as a difference in the ratio between agricultural workers and livestock workers.

“Ignoring the demand to supplement the migrant worker system”

There was a large gap between the two surveys in terms of experience with unpaid wages. With the migrants, the cause was found in the difference in questioning method. The Human Rights Commission asked ‘Have you ever had any arrears in wages while working in Korea?’ while the Ministry of Justice asked ‘Are you not receiving wages at the farm you are currently working on?’

Kim Sa-gang, a research fellow at the Institute for Migration and Human Rights (attached with migrants), raised doubts about the background of the distortion of research data by the Ministry of Labor. “As a responsible agency, it appears to be ignoring domestic and foreign demands to improve the situation of migrant workers and supplement the system.” Together with the migrants, they sent an official letter to the Minister of Employment and Labor, requesting an explanation.

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