We condemn the reforms to migrant workers' workplace change, which grossly violate their basic rights!
On July 5, the government held a meeting of the Foreign Workforce Policy Committee to announce changes to room and board fee and workplace changes. However, a ban on temporary structures such as containers, prefabricated panels, greenhouses, and workplace annexes, which is a key solution to the problem of substandard housing, was not accepted. Furthermore, the pre-deduction
of room and board from wages, which has been criticized for violating the principle of full payment of wages and being taken unilaterally by employers, was also left unchanged. Without improvements to these core issues, migrant workers’ housing condition will not improve. To ensure at least decent housing condition, the use of temporary structures should be banned, and room and board fee should not be deducted in advance, but should be provided free of charge or at least half paid for by the employer.
Regarding the change of workplaces, it is a complete worsening. The biggest worsening is that it will only allow workplace changes within "regional boundary" in the name of countering ‘extinction of local area’. This is an even more serious restriction and violation of basic rights, as it adds regional restrictions to the already toxic provisions of the migrant worker employment permit system. The shipbuilding industry, a sub-sector of the manufacturing industry, is said to be restricted to change only within the shipbuilding industry, which is also a measure that severely limits the change of workplace. Rather than improving the restrictions on changing workplaces, which have been criticized for slave labor and forced labor, this is unacceptable. It is also in direct violation of the ILO Forced Labor Convention, which the Korean government has ratified and came into effect.
Migrant workers are the same people, the same workers. They come here because Korean society and the Korean economy need them, and they work long hours of low-paying, high-intensity, dangerous labor in 3D industries that are not filled by nationals, and they suffer from discrimination, exploitation, human rights violations, and inhumane treatment. How does it make sense that the Korean government is talking about an immigrant society and pushing for the establishment of an immigration agency, while the number of migrants is increasing, but the level of rights is drastically limited and regressed. The idea of easily restricting migrant workers' basic rights is racist.
Migrant workers are not machines or slaves!
The government must immediately withdraw its violations of migrant workers' basic rights!
Guarantee migrant workers freedom to change workplaces!
July 6, 2023
Migrants' Trade Union (MTU)