Korea Post Workers Union to strike if dangerous working conditions continue
Vow to strike comes after ninth death of a postal worker in 2019
The Korea Postal Workers Union (KPWU) is vowing to strike if management continues to renege on promises to fix hazardous conditions facing postal employees. The strike could start as soon as July 9.
Korea Post has not hired the 1,000 new employees mandated by the collective bargaining agreement and has failed to take other necessary safety measures. This delay has had dangerous—even deadly—consequences. On June 20, postman Kang Gil-Sik died from cerebral hemorrhaging after enduring long hours of overwork. He is the ninth postman to die from work-related causes in 2019.
Mr Kang’s untimely demise shines a spotlight on the urgency for Korea Post’s management to work with the union to improve conditions.
Brother Lee Dong-Ho, KPWU President, said at the funeral services ceremony for Mr. Kang, "We will not accept death from overwork any longer, and we ask Korea Post be responsible. We will fight until our demands are met."
The KPWU demands are basic: to hire 1,000 postal workers as agreed in the union contract and implement a genuine 5 day-work-week system so that workers can rest during the weekend. If Korea Post does not accept these basic demands, KPWU is committed to hold a struggle rally on July 6, and the workers will strike from July 9 onwards.
“This situation is as infuriating as it is tragic,” said Cornelia Broos, Head of UNI Post&Logistics. “Korea Post must take action now to remedy life-threatening problems, and we fully stand with the KPWU as it fights for the safety of postal employees.”
The Korea Post Workers Union (KPWU) lodged a complaint to Korea’s Labour Commission on June 25, which initiated a mediation process between the union and Korea Post’s management. Unfortunately, no agreement was reached and a last attempt is scheduled for July 1. The KPWU and the Korea Post management had earlier signed an agreement in January 2018 to implement measures such as a de-facto 5 day work week and to hire more workers to address the overwhelming workload faced by postmen. The two parties had also formed a joint committee in June 2018 to develop measures to prevent deaths and industrial accidents in the workplace.