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Korean church activists support decent working conditions

Christian Workers Movement of Korea seek abolition of irregular working force, want increase of the minimum wage

Korean church activists support decent working conditions

A Catholic labor activist at Seoul Plaza hands out leaflets calling for decent working conditions. (Photo by The Catholic Times)

October 12, 2017

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Church labor activists in South Korea have held nationwide campaigns to raise people's awareness about working conditions and labor rights as part of the World Day for Decent Work.

The Christian Workers Movement of Korea (CWMK) organized simultaneous campaigns for decent working conditions across the country including in Seoul, Incheon and Daejeon on Oct. 7.

The Catholic labor activists handed out leaflets informing the public about labor rights and the need to improve the labor conditions in some industries.

Emmanuel Nam Myeong-soo, president of CWMK, said that this year's campaign focused on the abolition of an irregular working force and the increase of the minimum wage.

"Recently, the government raised the minimal wage to 7,530 won (US$6.6) per hour but it should be at least 10,000 won (US$8.8) to cover basic living costs in Korea," said Nam.

Victoria Seo Soon-hee, who joined the campaign held at Seoul Plaza, said decent work means a guarantee of human dignity in terms of wages and labor conditions. "Excluding workers at large companies and public sectors, most workers are suffering from low wages," said Seo.

"The church teaches all the labor is equal, but in reality, the laborers are classified as regular workers and irregular workers and they earn unequal wages even though they do the same work," she added.

The World Day for Decent Work has been celebrated since 2008 and South Korean Catholic labor activists began campaigns in 2015.

The International Labor Organization defines decent work as labor that protects human dignity, labor that earns enough money to support a family, labor that reflects the opinion of workers and labor that can prepare for life after the retirement.

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