[Letters]Doing right by irregular workers

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[Letters]Doing right by irregular workers

While reading the editorial on irregular workers [“Securing jobs, job security,” Jan. 29], I could not recall recent stories [about the subject]but the most striking demonstration of such labor problem, which I remember from my old memories, was the case of irregular workers from E-land. As far as I know, the company fired hundreds of non-regular workers under the current labor protection law because it probably did not want to convert non-regular workers to regular status although they have been working there for 2 years.

This is not the only case. It is quite common to see protests and demonstrations by several labor unions in Korea. Now those have become chronic events in the country, and thankfully the most covered topics for reporters to write headline articles.

These days, many firms are preoccupied with devising management strategies to deal with the current economic recession. One of their business strategies might be laying off irregular workers first. If that happens, then people could expect to see demonstrations and protests by irregular workers once again on the front pages of newspapers as commonplace.

Why do these happen so frequently in Korea? The answer is simple; It is because a fundamental problem has not been tackled yet, as your editorial pointed out [on Jan. 29). Extending the irregular employment period to four years might bring the same problem again; workers might be laid off before they have worked four years.

I, too, think job sharing as suggested in the editorial is a good idea. However, it is also important to make working conditions for irregular workers more desirable. Irregular workers are indispensable for our working environment. The problem is that irregular workers are treated unfairly, even under the law.

Improving working conditions for irregular workers and fair treatment like providing insurance and overall welfare should be considered carefully. Also firms should respect irregular workers as members of the company and treat them ethically, opening dialogue with them.

Transforming all irregular workers to regular status cannot be the ultimate and only possible solution. However, firms do need to shift a certain percentage of well-trained irregular workers to regular work as they provide training programs to workers. If this system is set well in the workplace, it would become a firm’s strategic and competitive edge.

Lastly, if the government makes an effort to improve working conditions for non-regular workers through protection laws, this chronic conflict would be eased step by step in the future.

Son Min-ji, student, Ewha Womans University
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