South Korea legal boost for migrant workers

KATHMANDU: South Korea has adopted a new labour law on August to

grant the basic rights of migrant workers. The South Korean parliament passed the law — Employment Permit Bill (EPB) — on July 31.

EPB is associated with South Korea’s policy of hiring foreign workers through Employment Permit System (EPS) and Industrial Trainee System (ITS). South Korea has been hiring blue-collar jobseekers from least developed countries under the EPS system whereas ITS permits South Korean entrepreneurs to hire foreigner workers independently.

The new law guarantees trade union rights to migrant workers through a government registered trade union — Equality Trade Union-Migrant’s Branch (ETU-MB).

Migrant workers were fighting for the right since 2001. The new law has secured EPS aspirants, providing them a guarantee of minimum wages, accident insurance and fixed visa period of three years.

Moreover, the new law has provided sufficient ground for migrant workers to seek legal remedy in case of inhumane treatment at the hands of their employers. If any employer refuses to give wages or beats employees, migrant workers can file a case in the labour court and the court can even allow him/her to leave the job and join in another place.

Around 7,500 Nepalis are working in South Korea, with 2,849 under the EPS hiring system. South Korea is a lucrative destination for Nepali migrant workers where there income is five-fold that in other destinations, such as Gulf countries and Malaysia. Nepali EPS wor-kers are getting an average monthly salary of $970- $1,000 depending on their work.

However, the new law is

biased against ITS workers as

it restricts them from joining the trade union. Workers in

this category have to work 12 hours per day six days a

week in 3D sectors — difficult, dirty and dangerous. South

Korean labour unions have been protesting against the

ITS since 2004, calling it

‘modern slavery.’

Meanwhile, South Korea

is planning to deport illegal

migrant workers from September. According to the South

Korean Ministry of Labour, around 2,27,000 foreigners — mainly from the Philippines and Indonesia — are working there illegally.

Minister Alam in UAE

KATHMANDU: Minister for Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) Mohammed Aftab Alam reached the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Wednesday after a weeklong visit of Israel. He will be in the UAE till Saturday. He has talked to Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Interior Eliyahu Yishai about the Nepali migrant labour problems in Israel. In April, the government of Israel banned the entry of Nepali workers after finding over 1,000 workers in illegal status. Around 12,000 Nepalis are in Israel and 10,000 of them are women working as care-givers. — HNS

2m WMWs

KATHMANDU: The numbers of Nepali women migrant workers (WMWs) going abroad is increasing after the government allowed them. According to Ministry of Labour, around two million Nepali women have gone abroad for employment. A report by UNIFEM and NEEDS shows there are around 78,000 Nepali women abroad. Nepal received Rs 188.88 billion remittance at the end of 11 months in 2008-09. Of the total, around 11 per cent was sent by the WMWs. — RSS