South Korea: railway workers holidays

The Union of railway workers of South Korea stated that the employees of Korail affiliated company, are forced to work overtime, “smiling”.

. Yes, Kang Joon hates the holidays. Hundreds of additional trains are appointed for travelers heading to their hometowns, but Korail Tourism Devlopment, where she works as a tour guide on the train, do not hire additional staff to work on this tight schedule. While all the other people celebrate the holidays, the workload of the Kahn and her colleagues only grows.

The so-called “2-2 change” quite frequent during the holidays. Workers in this period did not return home after the end of the shift Instead, they sleep off in the company’s offices and then once again go to work. Typically, a crew member of the high-speed KTX train from Busan to Seoul would have to return home at the end of the working day. But if you change “2-2” employee sleeps 4-5 hours somewhere at the nearest station before heading back to Seoul. The Korean railway workers Union ( KRWU ) evaluates actual working hours during such shift at 25 hours.

Schedules of the company are not systematically developed. Often employees call for three or four days before the holidays and asked to work on public holidays. More just before the holidays they are afraid to see the phone number of the company on the screen of your mobile phone. Kahn once received penalties from company for the fact that I missed one of her calls – which, she feared, was asked to work on holidays. Crew members who work on holidays receive bonus points.

“If you have a lot of penalty points, it will be very difficult to get a promotion, so actually you have no choice,” says Kahn. “It is anticipated that such a request to work is voluntary, but you actually twisting her arm. One time I just came back from work, when they called me and “asked” to work the next day, which was a holiday.”

It was hard, but Kang kept glued to her face with a smile, working overtime on holidays during the Lunar New Year. The company announced the results of monitoring before operation and one of its requirements was “fun to greet the passenger with a visual contact.” “You always have to smile. when you come into eye contact with a passenger”, – was stated in the instructions. “Faces without expressions are not allowed. Control your expression so that your smile was a little wide”. Workers, already strained by the grueling conditions of work, literally forced to endure his pain with a smile.

The most primechatelno that these debilitating conditions are only applied to 550 employees “affiliate” of the company Korail. Their biggest complaint is that the shift system of the “2-2” doesn’t even exist for members of the crew working on the Korail. At Korail Tourism Development there are separate rules for working shifts “2-2”, which allows her to set a non working system Korail.

“This is a clear violation of the labour standards Law,” said Lee Jeong-Min, head of the Busan branch of the Korean trade Union of railway workers in Korail Tourism Development. “They make people work for 25 to 26 hours straight, with virtually no respite.”

“We are seeing all kinds of practices of labour exploitation in the name of “efficiency,” Lee says.

The Korail has backup staff for emergency situations, which call in the first place, when extra flights are scheduled. The system allows employees to be triggered suddenly, in the days when they had not planned to work. The branch office has no such back-up personnel. And the employees are there in total only 104 days off and vacation days per year, compared with 117 days for the employees of Korail. Their salary is twice less than workers in the Korail workers, says the Union.

Huge differences in working conditions between the parent company and its branch is more than just a case of employment discrimination, critics say. This is one of the factors in favor of the recent strike of railroad workers against Korean branch creation Korail – KTX Suso. Their argument is the creation of such branches is closely linked to the issue of working conditions. Under current law, a strike that is not assessed as related to working conditions, are considered as illegal and prosecutable as a “barrier to employment”.

“The situation faced by the employees of the branches typical of labour in South Korea – indirect employment, long hours, practice of operation “, – said the Deputy from the Democratic party Yoon soo Mi. -“It is also the future of the branch and Suso KTX.”

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