What Was the Life of Migrant Workers Like in 2011?

What was the life of a migrant worker like in 2011?

Kim Ki-don (Secretary General)

Focusing on the center activities in 2011, I would like to look back on what the lives of migrant workers were like.

Last year, the biggest topic of discussion among migrant workers was the expiration of the employment permit system.
Since 2011, a large number of migrant workers who entered Korea through the Employment Permit System started their stay in Korea. About 30,000 workers had to leave their home country due to the expiration of their stay period last year, and it is expected that there will be 65,000 workers this year and 50,000 to 60,000 workers each year from next year. Therefore, there were concerns that a large number of undocumented people would occur and a shortage of manpower in the labor market would occur, and these concerns soon came true. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are suffering from severe labor shortages. Expiration of the visiting employment system was also a problem, but unlike the lack of measures prepared by the announcement of re-entry measures by the Ministry of Justice, for those who have expired under the employment permit system, the government has so far been does not offer any solutions.

Last year, in the first half of last year, an incident that drew a lot of attention as well as an important activity of the center was the arrest of 10 migrant construction workers in Vietnam due to a strike. In the construction labor market in Korea, the demand for manpower is being filled from Chinese Korean workers to Han Chinese workers, and then from Asian workers who entered the employment permit system. As this situation accelerates, in the case of large-scale civil works, Asian workers There are cases in which mass employment of In the case of Incheon New Airlines, where the strike took place, about 180 Vietnamese workers were employed. These workers were not only receiving only 4,110 won per hour (as of 2010) while working at a construction site that provided excessive manual labor, but also went on a strike for the right to live because they were provided with poor meals. However, in response to the demands of these workers, the Korean government removed the yoke of an illegal strike, and 10 workers were identified as the initiators of the strike, arrested and put on trial. This case is significant in that it reflects the reality of Korean construction sites as well as the first case in which a migrant worker was tried on strike. The construction federation and local construction labor unions worked together to bring the acquittal of these workers, drawing a consensus that the role of support for migrant workers at the construction site belongs to the construction union organized at the construction site. With this incident as a starting point, there is a movement within the construction union that calls for the construction union to take an active role in resolving the conflict between Korean workers, Chinese compatriots, and migrant workers at construction sites. This change will be a positive change not only for migrant workers but also for Korean workers.

It was also a year in which employers’ poor perception of migrant workers was still a problem. The representative case, the slave labor case against migrant workers in Yanggu, Gangwon-do, was shocking. In Yanggu, 18 farm owners and a broker, Mr. Ahn, expediently hired about 200 Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese workers to enforce poor labor contract conditions, and forced migrant workers to work by assigning farms against the will of the workers. worked like a slave. Wages were also not paid on time, so the workers were not receiving millions of won in wages. Although this incident is due to the peculiarity of the agricultural sector, which requires labor depending on the season, in essence, the government policy that created the possibility that labor rights and human rights will be violated by indiscriminately introducing migrant labor force into industries that are experiencing a manpower shortage. is responsible for that The government policies that induce employment and work in the agricultural sector are expected to produce numerous forms of human rights violations and unstable labor in the future, not only for workers under the Employment Permit System, but also for Korean workers.

Last year, the government’s policy of enforced enforcement and deportation still prevailed. As stated earlier, as a large number of people who have expired in the employment permit system occur, the government has increased the intensity of crackdowns to curb the occurrence of undocumented residents. The Ministry of Justice designated the month of November as the period of joint government crackdown and carried out joint crackdowns with the police and the Ministry of Labor. And eight days after the joint crackdown began, an undocumented Chinese worker, Hewei, died of a myocardial infarction during the crackdown. The enforcement action of the Ministry of Justice, which causes injuries and deaths every year, was no exception this time. After the incident, the Seoul Immigration Office, which cracked down on Mr. Heway due to strong protests from human rights groups, took measures such as purchasing and deploying a defibrillator in the crackdown vehicle, and providing emergency medical treatment training to immigration staff. I can’t shake the impression that it’s over. Unless more fundamental measures are taken, such as the introduction of warrants, the prohibition of night crackdowns, and the abolition of the quota system, these incidents will continue to be repeated. Above all, in-depth reflection and discussion on the enforcement and deportation policy of undocumented workers is necessary. .

As such, the life of migrant workers in 2011 was not easy. The outlook for this year is also not so bright. The multicultural policy promoted by the government, intentionally or not, has submerged the labor and human rights issues of all migrants, including Koreans, to the surface. Rather than paying attention to the problems of migrants suffering in the field of work and life, Korean society seems to be blinded by the façade of multicultural policies created by the government and the media. Therefore, it is not a time to wait for someone to speak up for the voices of migrant workers, and we expect that the voluntary and active activities of migrant workers will become more active this year.

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