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Solidarity with Korean education support workers

November 08, 2013
KPTU-EdSol, the Korean trade union that organises education support workers, would like to receive solidarity statements and photos of education support members from PSI affiliates around the world, in time for their strike on 15 November.

Please send your messages and images to kptu.intl@gmail.com by 13 November so that the union has time to translate them.

In South Korea, education support workers experience conditions severely inferior to those of other schools, faculty or even education support workers in countries where they have won recognition as paraprofessionals. In most school districts in Korea, education support workers must sign employment contracts with individual school principles rather than with the education authorities who control education policy, leading to severe job insecurity. They are not considered as public servants, instructors, or even members of the school community, and education support workers face low wages and degrading and discriminatory treatment.

In the last several years, however, Korean education support workers have begun to stand up for their rights. Tens of thousands have joined unions, including the 20,000 members of the KPTU Education Workers Solidarity Division (KPTU-EdSol). Whereas until last year, education support workers’ unions were refused collective bargaining, they have now forced school officials to the bargaining table across the country and signed agreements in four districts. After a successful national protest earlier this year, the Park Geun-hye government also announced it would release a plan for legislative changes to improve education support workers conditions.

Like many promises made by the current administration, this announcement turned out to be merely words. The government is now stalling, saying it doesn’t have the funds it would take to give education support workers a pay-scale, decent working conditions and job security. Thus, KPTU-EdSol and other education support workers unions are planning to strike. Already, KPTU-EdSol branches have carried out pre-strike rallies from October 31 to November 2.

KPTU-EdSol will hold a one day strike on 15 November to call for good collective bargaining agreements, the implementation of a wage-scale and the legislation and budget allocation needed to improve education support workers’ conditions. A general strike with other unions will follow at the end of November.  

In the past, solidarity from PSI affiliates has given our KPTU-EdSol members great strength. They would greatly appreciate statements of solidarity to be read at the November 15 strike rally. Please include information about your own struggles as education support workers so they can share it with their members.

Please see the attachment for more information on education support workers in South Korea and KPTU-EdSol.

Also see