SEOUL (AsiaNews) – “Now that a Korean is heading the UN, it is time for Korea to care more about its 470,000 migrant workers suffering from inconvenience and invisible discrimination,” said Lee Chul-seung, head of the Joint Committee for Migrant Workers in Korea in a statement issued on Monday, December 18, designated by the UN International Migrants Day.
On Sunday, hundreds of migrant workers gathered at the
Mr Lee, who is also director of the Kyongnam Migrant Workers’ Counsel Office, the main organizer of the Migrant Arirang, and director of Open Society of the Multicultural Country, said that the government needs to redefine what it means by the term “workers”.
He criticised the term “industrial trainee”, saying that these “trainees” worked as hard as other workers but were not treated as workers because of how they are called.
“If they are really considered workers, they should all be guaranteed all their rights,” he said, adding that if “the government adopts the convention, then workers may have more freedom to choose their futures in
Lee and his associates said the Korean government’s response to their request was positive toward changing the laws on migrant workers.
The Supreme Court has recently ruled that the Korean Labour Act should protect an industrial trainee in the same way as it does Korean workers.
For Lee migrant workers should be aware of their status and their rights as well. “They are workers in
Throughout his life as an activist for migrant workers’ rights, Lee defended badly treated migrant workers. “Some times they were not given their salaries on time, insulted or even kicked out of supermarkets and crowded places. I hope they [now] stand up for their own rights,” he said.