Solidarity with Korean education support workers

June 13, 2013
Public Services International has received a request from the Korean Public & Social Services and Transportation Workers’ Union, Education Workers Solidarity Division (KPTU-EdSol), an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions KCTU, a member of PSI. They are asking for PSI affiliates to send letters of support in their struggle on behalf of education support workers.

KPTU-EdSol is fighting for the rights of education support workers. Unfortunately, bargaining is moving ahead slowly, and the central government has not passed legislation needed to change their employment status. On June 22, the union will hold a national rally to declare their intention to strike if their demands are not met. In the absence of a response from the government and education authorities, they plan to go on strike in July.

In South Korea there are roughly 250,000 precariously-employed education support workers. These workers account for more than 50 percent of precarious employment in the Korea public sector and their numbers continue to increase. Korean education support workers play a vital role in public education by providing healthy food to students and teachers, aiding in teaching, running school libraries, keeping schools clean, providing afterschool care and instruction and counseling and supporting socially vulnerable students. Nonetheless, they are not recognized as part of the teaching staff and severely discriminated against. Korean education support workers face continuous job instability and earn only roughly 50% of the wages regularly-employed school staff earn. Moreover, there is no wage scale based on years of experience for education support workers, meaning that the pay of a worker who has worked for twenty years is the same as a worker in his/her first year (roughly $1,000 USD).

PSI has written a support letter to the union. KPTU-EdSol has provided a sample statement of support (attached below) that you can download and send to the union, or you can also write your own support letter. Please send your messages by 15 June so that the union has time to translate them in time for their rally on 22nd June.

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