S. Korea: Strikes Expanding in Shipbuilding Industry
The umbrella union in the shipbuilding industry, which consists of workers at eight different shipbuilders, declared that it joined the ongoing strike at Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The move is because of a serious shortage of workers. “During the past recession, the companies laid off a large number of workers despite our petitions and caused a lot of workers to leave by slashing salaries, which means the ongoing shortage is because of the companies’ fault,” they said, adding, “Those who left need to return, and young workers need to be employed for the industry’s recovery and this can be done only when the companies ensure work safety and adequate wages.”
The companies recently asked the government to facilitate foreign worker employment and the government accepted the request on April 19. For example, the number of foreign welders and painters who can be hired by a shipbuilder was adjusted from 600 to 20 percent of its domestic workers and foreign students in South Korea now can be more easily hired by shipbuilders in need of welders and painters. The unionized workers are opposed to foreign worker employment.
According to industry sources, about 5,000 workers can be added to the companies as a result of the relaxed regulations but this number is just 20 percent or so of what is actually needed.
Source: Business Korea