Issues and News on Migrant Workers’ Movement

○ Amnesty International Published a Report on Migrant Workers in South Korea

Amnesty International’s East Asia researcher Norma Kang Muico on October 21 unveiled the report on rights condition for migrant workers in South Korea, following her one-year research. Thereport, which views migrant workers here are treated as “disposableworkers,” denounced human rights violations inflicted during  crackdowns, poor shelter conditions,  overdue wages, industrial accidents,  threats and coercions, and sexual harassment and called on the government for improvement.

○ National Human Rights Commission Announced Human Rights Violations Occurred During Crackdowns Immigration authorities in Suwon violated human rights by forcibly breaking into migrant workers’ houses without due notice, the National Human Rights Commission said on November 11. Officials from Suwon immigration office failed to identify themselves, hit migrant workers with handcuffs and hauled the workers in underwear away, which the human rights watchdog said it sees as human rights violation. The commission asked the justice minister to draw up a measure to prevent recurrences and advised the head of immigration office in Suwon to order the officials concerned to take proper corrective measures.

○ A Steep Rise in Delayed Wages for Migrant Workers

The number of migrant workers whose wages have been delayed for a year has doubled since the Lee Myung-bak administration came into office. The number, which stood at 1832 in 2006, 2249 in 2007, and 6849 last year, posted 4659 as of June this year, indicating a worsening situation. The amount of delayed wage has also been on the rise, posting 17 billion won last year and 12 billion won for the first half of this year. The sluggish economy plays a part in the grim picture, but the labor ministry’s failure to take proper action is certainly aggravating the situation.

Precious Victory—the Monjung-Dong MTU members won their retirement benefits!

On October 6th, Munjung-Dong members, after refusing to sign a false document that indicates workers’ receipt of retirement benefits, were arrested by the immigration officials who were waiting in front of their house. Since only the company knew about members’ house, it was obvious that the company called in. Nevertheless, the company denied that they sold out the workers to the immigration. The MTU publicized this injustice to the media and registered a protest in front of the company. As the media covered the members’ story and the protest was being scheduled, the company called the MTU and paid for the retirement benefits. The total amount for seven members was 42,000,000 won. However, because the company stubbornly refused to admit its notice to the immigration, MTU held a protest in front of the company on October 20th. This case is meaningful that MTU won a victory against the company.