Strike by hotline hourly workers challenges Park

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Strike by hotline hourly workers challenges Park

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Dozens of contract workers at the 120 Dasan Call Center, the Seoul City Government’s 24-hour help service, stage a rally demanding higher paychecks and staff jobs yesterday in front of City Hall. [NEWS1]

Some contract workers at the 120 Dasan Call Center, the city government’s 24-hour help service, staged a one-hour strike yesterday for higher paychecks and staff jobs.

At 11 a.m., members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) gathered in front of City Hall in Jung District, central Seoul, and declared that 150 out of 490 Dasan workers would lay down their headsets from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

They went on to threaten a full strike from Friday if their demands weren’t met.

Their foremost demand is to become regular employees of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. The call service center is currently operated by three subcontractors: MPC, KTCS and Hyosung ITX. The municipal government pays an average of 19 billion won ($17.06 million) to run the center per year.

Dasan will be a test case for Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who has pledged to reduce the number of contract workers used by the city and boost the number of full-time salaried jobs with benefits.

In March 2012, four months after he became mayor, Park had converted a total of 1,133 temporary jobs for the city government into something more stable by guaranteeing the workers unlimited contracts until their retirement age.

In December, the city government announced it would directly hire 6,231 contract workers affiliated with the city government’s subcontractors. With that adjustment, a total of 3,312 workers, including cleaners of the Seoul Metro, were converted from contracts to salaries.

About 2,000 additional maintenance and security workers will be converted into regular workers from next year.

The city government is studying whether it should directly hire the Dasan workers.

“The study result will come out in October,” a spokesman of the city government said.

The problem is that there are too many organizations like Dasan in the city. There are 343 organizations affiliated to the city government and their total workforce is about 13,000.

The government spends an average of 1.07 trillion won per year to keep those contract workers employed.

The government currently worries that all of those workers will demand full employment if it complies with Dasan’s demands.

The Dasan workers also demanded a 4 percent increase in their basic monthly wage, which is now 990,000 won. They initially demanded a 20 percent wage increase.

In addition, the workers demanded the companies increase their Chuseok and Lunar New Year’s bonuses. A 30,000 won bonus is given for each holiday but they want 100,000 won.

They also want the subcontracting companies to guarantee workers’ union activities.

The companies offered a 1.9 percent wage increase and didn’t respond to the other demands.

“The companies have been consistently saying that they offer the best working conditions in the industry, which is a complete lie,” Lee Jong-tak, spokesman of the KCTU told reporters. “We felt so pitiful receiving a 30,000 won bonus for the upcoming Chuseok holidays.”


BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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