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School worker strike means no lunch

Part-time staff across country walk out over pay, job security

Temporary school workers demand better pay and job security Temporary school workers demand better pay and job security
  • Stephen Hong, lncheon and Seoul
  • Korea
  • November 9, 2012
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Lunch was off the menu today in many schools across the country after thousands of part-time school workers went on strike to demand better pay and job security.

More than 933 schools out of 9,647 public elementary, middle and high schools hit by the strike were unable to provide lunches to students after members of the part-time workers’ union overwhelmingly voted for strike action.

Around 70 percent of the part-time workers are kitchen staff.

The trade union said the workers are poorly paid and are required to renew their contracts every year with each school head, which gives them little job security and leaves them open to exploitation.

Most of us receive “less than 1 million won [US$920] a month,” said Park Sun-ja, who along with some 100 other school workers formed a picket line outside the Incheon Office of Education today.

“Our salaries have remained unchanged regardless of whether we have worked for one year or more than 10 years,” she told ucanews.com.

According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, a family of four would currently struggle to survive on 1.5 million a month.

The strike was condemned by the Education Ministry which threatened the strikers.

“A strike disrupting education activities cannot be justified no matter what the situation,” the ministry said in a statement today

A “no-work-no-pay” principle will be applied to all those who participate in the strike, it said.

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