South Korea, Seoul's shipyards ask for more migrants, but impose lower wages

South Korea, Seoul's shipyards ask for more migrants, but impose lower wages

SEOUL (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Korean Business Federation (KEF) has asked local authorities to lower the minimum wage for migrant workers employed in the shipbuilding industry who hold E-7 visas. Permit holders are granted a basic wage equal to 80 percent of the previous year's per capita gross national income, so they can now earn about 2.7 million won ($2,050) a month.

The lowering of wages. But earlier this year, to make foreign labor more accessible, the Justice Ministry greenlighted a three-year temporary measure that would make small and medium-sized enterprises located outside the Seoul metropolitan area employees holding an E-7 visa can also pay 70% of the previous year's per capita GNI (about 2.5 million won a month). Industrialists argue that foreign workers will still be able to earn more than Koreans by working a lot of overtime.

For migrants only loading and unloading work. Korea suffers from a persistent labor shortage in shipyards, for which Kef, which has forwarded the request to the Ministry of Economy and the Government Policy Coordination Office on behalf of subcontractors, has urged the government to also large manufacturers can hire E-9 visa holders. In fact, these are hirings that are currently only allowed for companies with fewer than 300 employees and a capital of less than 8 billion won. Finally, Korean entrepreneurs urged the executive to allow the recruitment of foreigners also for the classification of parcels and the maintenance of vehicles in companies that deal with transport, asking for a change to the law which currently only allows migrant workers to do cargo work and unloading at the logistics centres.

The risks of accidents at work. However, the demands of industrialists have also raised concern because they could force foreigners to convert downtime into overtime. According to Kim Hyun-mee, professor of anthropology at Yonsei University, "the accumulation of tiredness could make migrant workers more vulnerable to the risk of accidents at work."

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