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‘Wandering Policy’ on Relieving Illegal Foreign Workers

‘Wandering Policy’ on Relieving Illegal Foreign Workers

Posted October. 03, 2003 23:11,   


In line with introduction of working permits for foreign residents, the Nation’s plan was put into a dilemma for relieving those who have lived illegally in the country for less than four years in September and October.

Indifference of company owners and lacking efforts of administration brought insignificant numbers of relief application. What is worse, the job counselors working for Employment Security Centers of the Labor Ministry have decided to go on general strikes starting October 6.

Poor performances: As of October 2, 23,500 workers, which forms barely over 10 percent out of 227,000 eligible candidates, have been issued certificate of employment required for their legal status in the Nation.

If the other 203,500 workers apply for relief by due date, the last day this month, an average of 8,479 workers per day will be applying for 24 days, with holidays excluded. The number of Employment Security Centers, where the certificates of employment are issued, is 67, and that means a center must be dealing with 129 workers a day. The centers in Kyeonggi-Inchon area relatively populated with foreign workers seem to have more pressures than the other posts.

Park Young-jin, deputy chairman of job counselors’ labor union in Labor Ministry, said, “It is already impossible to complete relief procedures within the due date.”

According to his explanation, it requires more time to check whether there are any missing documents, or whether the worker is actually working for the mentioned company in the paper, even after the application is submitted. Therefore, issuing work permits in three days after the application seemed very tight.

Lack of Readiness: The Government estimated that the low outcome is due to reluctance and indifference of employers. Accordingly, the Government took measures to raise penalties two times (up to KRW 10,000,000) to non-reported illegal workers and their employers and also reinforce the control

But, on the other side, the failure is said to be originated from Government’s lacking readiness and ‘armchair argument’.

Lee Sang-rin, Manager of Sungnam Foreign Worker’s Home, said “Candidates for relief are too limited, and moreover, there are not may foreign workers who can provide certificate of employment, copy of company certificate or standard certificate of labor etc., which the Government requested to them.”

Lee insisted, “The only way to facilitate this problem is to simply allow all those workers who have lived less than four years without submitting any complicating documents.”

Strike of Job Counselors: 1,800 job counselors are supposed to go on strike on October 6 for reasons of breakdown of salary increase and general discussion.

When the irregular employees working in 155 Employment Security Centers nationwide attend the strike, it is evident to interrupt procedures for relieving foreign workers. Not to mention, providing unemployment allowances, job counseling and job placement services, job development program and employment security services will be swayed as well

The major demands of labor union are 17 percent raise in regular payment and stable status (shift to regular employee). However, Labor Ministry adheres to the decision that governmental budgetary plan for next year is already fixed, and shifting employment position issue is involved with other Ministries and therefore cannot accept it at the moment.

The Ministry of Labor decided to input civil servants from local labor agencies in case of possible strike of job counselors, but it is still opaque whether they can well handle the relief processes for illegal foreign workers especially on crowded days.

Kyung-Joon Chung news91@donga.com