South Korea, Ten Vietnamese Migrant Workers on trial
180 Vietnamese migrant workers building a wharf in Inchon, South Korea, launched one brief strike in July, 2010,
and another last January. The Vietnamese migrant workers are working for Taehung Construction a subcontractor
for Hyundai Construction.
The working conditions were very bad and the180 workers staged a walkout demanding for: three meals a day free of
charge, not to be forced to work at night against their will, be allowed to have friends visit them in company-provided
living quarters, and be allowed to have food, drink and alcohol in their living quarters. Working 12 hours every day
at $3.97 hourly minimum wage rate, the workers were protesting against long working hours, unjust working
conditions and since July 2010 having to pay a new $6.87 daily charge for two meals.
Ten Vietnamese migrant workers are on trial for the strike, charged with violence and “assault with a deadly weapon.”
At the first trial which took place on May 26, the prosecution sought prison sentences ranging from one to three years
for the workers.
Under South Korean constitution all workers including migrant workers are guaranteed three basic labour rights —
right to organize, right to collective bargaining, and right to strike. But the Vietnamese workers are arrested for
protesting. The trial continues on 20 June 2011.
Please sign petition: http://www.bwint.org/default.asp?Index=3554&Language=EN
Support Imprisoned Vietnamese Migrant Workers in South Korea
BWI Connect 14 June 2011
From March to April, 2011, ten Vietnamese migrant workers who had worked for Taehung Construction a subcontractor for Hyundai Construction in constructing a container wharf in Incheon, South Korea, were arrested. The prosecution has charged them with “obstruction of business, interfering with the regular business operations of the company, inciting group violence, and assault with a deadly weapon for two walk-outs. The walk-outs were the result of long work hours, unjust working conditions and Taehung reneging components of the workers’ employment contract.
These workers worked a 12-hour shift with an hour break seven days a week for a minimum hourly wage of 4,110 KRW even though their employment contract stipulated a five-day work week. Initially the workers were granted three free meals a day but the management informed them that starting from July, 2010, only lunch would be provided free and Taehung would deduct 240,000 KRW from their monthly wages for breakfast and dinner. Taehung’s actions are in violation of South Korean Labour Standards Act which stipulate one day of rest and the workers’ employment contract
As a result, the workers called on the management for improvements in their working conditions. The company responded by threatening to report them to the Ministry of Labour and have them deported. Due to this callous attitude of the company, the workers conducted a walk-out from July 22 to 25, 2010. The Taehung management responded by only recognizing eleven hours of work even though they worked twelve hours, further angering the workers who conducted another walk-out from January 9 to 10, 2011.
For these actions, the prosecution has charged these workers with “obstruction of business, interfering with the regular business operations of the company, inciting group violence, and assault with a deadly weapon for two walk-outs. The prosecution also claims that the illegal strike caused significant financial losses to Taehung. At the first trial which took place on May 26, the prosecution sought prison sentences ranging from one to three years for the workers. The next hearing is to take place on June 20, 2011.
The Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions, one of BWI’s affiliates in South Korea has been actively involved in supporting these workers. They along with migrant rights organizations, civil society groups, and human rights organizations have established a support network and currently are collecting petitions that will be submitted to the judge presiding over the case prior to their next trial scheduled for June 20, 2011.
Please sign onto the petition: http://www.bwint.org/default.asp?Index=3554&Language=EN
The Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions, BWI’s affiliates in South Korea has been actively involved in supporting these workers.
They along with migrant rights organizations, civil society groups, and human rights organizations are calling on the prosecution to immediately release the
workers and cease the unjust trial proceedings.
Source: Task Force on ASEAN Migrant Workers