Non-regular school workers may strike today

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Non-regular school workers may strike today

Korean schools will likely be hit hard by a joint walkout by their non-regular workers this week.

An alliance of non-regular employees working at elementary and secondary schools - including cafeteria cooks, dietitians and administrative assistants for teachers - has threatened to stage a general strike from Wednesday to Friday to push through wage increases.

Ahead of the launch of the strike, representatives of the non-regular workers and education officials held last-minute negotiations on Tuesday. But it is unclear whether the negotiations will narrow the gap between the two sides, informed officials and watchers say.

The alliance of non-regular school workers calls for a basic pay increase of 6.24 percent and eliminating discrimination in the payment of various allowances. They also demand that their wages be raised to a level equivalent to 80 percent of the lowest-ranking civil servants’ pay during the tenure of the Moon Jae-in government.

But the education authorities have proposed a pay hike of 1.8 percent for the non-regulars.

About 50,000 of the alliance’s 95,000 members are expected to participate in the three-day strike.

The general strike, if implemented, is expected to affect the provision of school lunches, after-school day care services and many other supplementary school operations. Two years ago, about 15,000 non-regular school employees staged a strike, paralyzing food services at nearly 2,000 elementary, middle and high schools.

The non-regular school workers have planned their joint walkout in solidarity with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a militant labor umbrella group. In a related move, the KCTU, whose nearly one million members make it one of the nation’s largest labor groups, has vowed to stage a general strike on July 18, in an effort to press the Moon government to protect labor rights.

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