Korea: Korea Post Workers Union vows strike if Korea Post fails again to address working conditions
Indecent working conditions continue to plague Korea Post as its management renege on their promises to implement measures that will improve the situation. This delay resulted in another postman, Mr. Kang Gil-Sik, to succumb from cerebral haemorrhage on June 20 after enduring long hours of overwork. He is the ninth (9) postman to die from overwork in 2019.
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 to be held on July 1st. 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.
Mr Kang’s untimely demise shines a spotlight on the inadequacy and lack of will of Korea Post’s management in fulfilling its side of the promise. His wife lamented, “We were a married couple, but he could only come home once or twice a month because he wanted to take 5 minutes longer sleep in Dangjin, rather than going home in Daejon City".
The KPWU demands are basic - Korea Post to hire 1,000 postmen as agreed in the collective bargaining agreement and implement a genuine 5 day-work-week system so that postmen can rest during the weekend. If Korea Post does not accept the basic demands, KPWU is committed to hold a struggle rally on July 6 and the workers will strike from July 9 onwards. The president of KPWU, Bro. Lee Dong-Ho, vowed at the funeral services ceremony for the late Mr. Kang Gil-Sik that, "We will not accept death from overwork any longer and ask Korea Post be responsible for all these liabilities, and we will fight until our demands are met".