USFK may lay off many workers in Dongducheon

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USFK may lay off many workers in Dongducheon

DONGDUCHEON, Gyeonggi - Many Koreans working at a major U.S. military base in Dongducheon, north of Seoul, are likely to be laid off within the year due to its planned relocation to the southwestern city of Pyeongtaek, their union said Sunday.

The U.S. 2nd Infantry Division notified the union of its plan to dismiss Korean workers at Camp Casey in the city last month, according to official sources.

But the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) has yet to disclose the scale or timing of the declared layoffs, the union said.

It added that the USFK will reportedly maintain the total number of workers at U.S. bases across the nation at some 8,000 by September and cut it to some 7,750 in the latter half of the year.

Most of the workers are doing odd jobs like cleaning, with a considerable number of them being the breadwinners of four-member families and receiving just under 40 million won ($37,418) per year, the union said.

The USFK has not given any prior account of who will be fired, as Korean workers belonging to the USFK are not subject to the domestic labor law but come under the jurisdiction of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed between the two nations, the union said.

According to the SOFA, the USFK are only required to give notice 45 days in advance before dismissals, with no explanations needed, it added. “The layoffs are feared to be a signal to those at other U.S. bases,” the union said.

At present, some 5,000 Koreans are working at Yongsan Garrison in Seoul and U.S. camps in northern areas, which are scheduled to be moved to Camp Humphreys in Pyeongtaek, located 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of the capital.

About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean aggression, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the divided peninsula technically still at war.

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