Poll focuses on foreign workers

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Poll focuses on foreign workers

The Seoul Metropolitan Government released the results of a survey on blue-collar foreign workers in the capital city, who make up 22 percent of entire foreign population in Seoul, in an effort to set up a comprehensive support plan for foreigners working in positions mostly avoided by Koreans.

This is the first time the city government conducted a survey on blue-collar workers for policy making. There were 89,620 blue-collar foreign workers in Seoul as of 2014, according to the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs.

According to the poll, conducted in December on 700 foreign workers who have stayed in Korea for at least three months with occupations that do not require professional expertise, average daily working hours totaled 11, while average monthly pay stood at 1.89 million won ($1,716). Working hours and pay were similar to that of Koreans in lower-income brackets.

Those who came from China, mostly Korean-Chinese workers with working visit H-2 visas, earned on average about 1.92 million won per month, while Thai and Filipino nationals, typically on non-professional employment E-9 visas, received just 1.52 million won a month.

Respondents said the policies they wanted most from the city government involved social stabilization (29.2 percent), support in the early stages of settlement (25 percent) and support in job searching (22.8 percent).

When asked about the difficulties involved in settling down, communication was considered the largest hurdle (46.2 percent). However, 90.1 percent of respondents said that they currently speak Korean, and 87.5 percent said they could understand written Korean. Their biggest concern after acclimating was prejudice and discrimination (40.1 percent).

Blue-collar foreign workers seemed to be moderately satisfied with living in Seoul. Respondents gave it 3.57 points on a 5-point scale as an overall score.

The most satisfying aspect was the quality of public transportation, they said, which received 3.93 points. They were most discontented with medical service, which received 3.15 points.

Despite the country’s high-end medical technology, their discontent with medical services appeared to be reflected in the ratio of National Health Service subscribers, which stood at 41.5 percent. When asked about their hesitations toward health insurance, 42.7 percent said the premium is too expensive.

But despite their concerns with living in Seoul, 92.7 percent answered that they would like to have their visas extended, and 78.9 percent of them said they would stay three or more years.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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