South Korea ranks third in highest annual working hours and as of 2015 it was third in workplace deaths among member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Over 40 percent of all workers are considered “irregular workers,” many of these irregular workers labor in the gig economy, being beholden to tech giants’ apps.
With an economy and society dominated by corporate conglomerates known as chaebol, South Korean people face increasingly bleak prospects.
The top 10 percent of earners claimed 45 percent of total income in 2016.
Real estate speculation has led to a housing crisis, and privatization in education and health care are expanding disparities.
On October 20, at least half a million workers in South Korea — from across the construction, transportation, service, and other sectors — are expected to walk off their jobs in a one-day general strike.
The strike will also be accompanied by mass demonstrations in urban centers and rural farmlands, culminating in a national all-people’s mobilization in January 2022.
The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), the country’s largest labor union umbrella with 1.1 million members, is organizing these mobilizations in a broad-based front with South Korea’s urban poor and farmers. The KCTU said its members from Seoul, the surrounding Gyeonggi Province and the city of Incheon, west of Seoul, will gather in the capital to hold a massive rally.
The three major goals are the abolition of nonregular workers, a full revision of the Labor Standards Act; job security for workers in industries in transition; and increased government support for housing, education, medical care and transportation.
"We have continuously called upon the government to resolve labour issues for workers who suffered the most from Covid-19, but the government tried to muzzle us without giving an answer," the KCTU said, accusing the government of attempting to restrict freedom of assembly guaranteed by the Constitution.
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