BWI Calls for the IOC to Act for Pyeongchang Olympics’ Construction Workers

11 September 2017 14:42


From 14 to 15 September 2017, the BWI, the leading Global Union federation of building, construction, wood and forestry and allied sector trade unions, will hold a rally in front of the Lima Convention Center, the site of the 130th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session to highlight the delayed payment of wages to construction workers. Workers who built Olympic venues are currently owed almost one million US dollar in back wages and a total of six million US dollar are owed to workers on Olympic-related construction projects.

“The IOC must live up to the commitments it has made to human rights through the 2020 Agenda by using its political power and use its leverage to immediately address these,” stated BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson. “The BWI has consistently raised the issue of back wages along with safety and health issues for the past two years in the IOC but unfortunately they have failed to concretely act, risking the livelihoods of these workers and their families.”

The IOC has political power and responsibility to demand immediate payment of back wages. According to a worker who has yet to be paid for his work: “The IOC can make sure people get paid on time and don’t get hurt on the job. If they want construction work done well, they should make sure that the people who do the work are treated well. The quality of construction depends on the quality of the work done by workers and the treatment they receive.”

The BWI’s affiliate in South Korea, the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU), has actively organised workers working in projects related to the 2018 PyeongChang Games. The union has also been at the forefront of organising workers against triangular and disguised employment relationships that deprive them of their rights to bargain collectively. For their efforts, union organisers have been harassed and jailed. In January 2017, three KFCITU-affiliated organisers were arrested under politically-motivated charges.

In addition, KCTU President Han Sang-Gyun is serving a three-year sentence for his role in coordinating a legal demonstration against labour reforms by the then Park Geun Hye government. The BWI, along with the international community, has called for the immediate release of President Han. The 2018 Pyeongchang Games will be tainted if trade unionists continue to be in jail during the Games.

The BWI is calling on the IOC to:

  • Use its political role to facilitate the immediate payment of back wages to construction workers.

  • Use its influence to press the newly-elected Moon Jae in government to end attacks against trade unions and release all jailed trade unionists including Han Sang-Gyun.

  • Concretely engage with the BWI to find long-lasting solutions so that future Games do not face similar issues as that of the 2018 PyeongChang.

For interviews with BWI General Secretary Ambet Yuson, please contact Jin Sook Lee on her cell:+ 41 79 962 47 93.