SOUTH KOREA: High altitude protest to demand equal treatment for owner-operators

20 November 2017 12:23


On 12 November, the Korean Construction Workers’ Union (KCWU) raised the pressure in the lead-up to the union’s general strike (28 November), demanding  the extension of retirement benefits and basic labor rights to the owner-operators of construction equipment and vehicles. The following day was the 47th anniversary of the passing of labour martyr Jeon Tae-il.

The previous night, senior KCWU officials Lee Yeongcheol (Senior Vice President) and Jeong Yang-wook (Gwangju-Jeolla Branch President) climbed a 30-meter tall billboard near the National Assembly. KCWU President Jang Okki showed his grim resolution by shaving his head.

Two comrades are risking their lives,” said Jang. “The union will stage an all-out struggle to achieve our demands, so that our comrades can safely land on the ground.

Their push for the National Assembly to amend the Act will give the owner-operators of construction equipment and vehicles equal eligibility to construction workers' retirement mutual-aid. They have been traditionally excluded from the benefits of the mutual-aid because they are considered a business owner or self-employed, however in reality they have been forced into a bogus employment relationship to lower costs for companies and deny them their rights as workers.

“We will not step on solid ground again until the amendment bill is passed,” said Lee Yeongcheol. 

KCWU is one of the three unions affiliated to the Korean Federation of Construction Industry Trade Unions (KFCITU), the BWI’s South Korean affiliate.