City taking legal action against callers

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City taking legal action against callers

The Seoul city government has filed complaints against six callers of a 24-hour hotline for spitting sexually offensive words at call center employees. This is the first time that the city government has taken legal action against abusive callers.

The city office said six callers verbally harassed female staff members and used obscene words on several occasions. The 120 Dasan Call Center, overseen by the municipal government and operated by three subcontracting companies, is popular among citizens because of its prompt responses to questions regarding transportation and city affairs.

Last month, in response to a growing number of employees reporting verbal abuse, the city introduced tougher punitive measures for callers who harass the center’s employees. One of the measures implements a three-strike system, in which violators are warned twice before being charged after a third time.

Similar revisions were also made to regulations regarding Dasan Call Center counselors at the time. If the degree of abuse is too serious, violators may be charged without warning and are subject to a maximum two-year prison sentence or a 5 million won ($4,664) fine.

The measures follow the advice of a human rights commission under the city government, which suggested that the municipal government devise measures to protect call center employees. The commission noted that the service providers at the call center have emotionally taxing jobs and deserve better treatment.

“We will make efforts to make sure that call center employees are not abused by rude callers,” said Kim Seon-sun of the city office.

The service providers’ calls for better treatment go back to August, when about 150 of 492 workers staged an hourlong strike demanding better treatment and decent working conditions. The following month, the workers and their contractors agreed to increase the basic monthly salary by 3 percent, or 29,700 won ($27.52), with a special bonus of 50,000 won for the Chuseok and Lunar New Year holidays.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]


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