Last week, a delegation consisting of representatives of BWI affiliates from Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Sweden and Finland, along with BWI’s affiliate in South Korea KFCITU, conducted a site visit of construction project sites related to the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games.
A total of KRW 17 trillion (USD 16B) will be invested in various private and public construction projects related to the Winter Olympic Games. These projects, which are scheduled to continue through 2018, include railway and highway construction works funded by the central government, sports-related structures and local roads projects invested by the municipal government, and the construction of hotels, tourist destinations and other private projects.
The Gangwon Branch of the Korean Construction Workers Union, an affiliate of the KFCITU, have been actively organizing workers engaged in project related to the Olympic Games, resulting in a number of collective bargaining agreements covering mechanical construction workers.
Although the delegation noted that construction of the some of the facilities has just begun, other facilities such as the Alpensia Resort - which will be the venue for Cross country skiing, ski jumping, and bobsleigh events - are all but finished.
During the meeting with the Pyeongchang Olympic Committee, representatives outlined their efforts to ensure safe working standards in projects that they oversee; however, they stressed that is difficult for them to cover the infrastructure and other related projects.
Kyosti Suokas, Vice-President of the Finnish Construction Workers Union stressed the broad influence of the Committee. He stated that, “The Pyeongchang Olympic Committee can play a key role in raising the employment standards across all Olympic-related projects, regardless of where their legal power begins and ends. They exercise significant political power, and their interventions could literally save lives.”
Prior to the visit, the delegation partook in the opening of an employment and Information centre funded by the Provincial government for construction workers in Chuncheon to promote local employment in Olympic-related projects. The centre is part of the union’s second phase of their organising strategy to outreach and organise construction site workers working in the Province and in particular related to the Olympic Games.
“We hope that through the centre, which is the first for the Gangwon province, we can ensure workers gain access to decent jobs, as well as address any complaints or problems that they encounter at the work site,” stated Kwon Hyeok Byeong, Director of the Gangwon Regional Branch of the Korean Construction Workers Union.
The BWI delegation was participating in a 2-day conference in Seoul organized by BWI, with support from FES and Union to Union, focusing on ensuring decent work related to mega-sporting events.