Discrimination related to women workers increases sharply amid economic crisis

Posted on : 2009-05-13 12:32 KST Modified on : 2009-05-13 12:32 KST
KWHL urges the Labor Ministry to strengthen inspections as unfair dismissals are on the rise
 while that of men only added 46 thousand.
while that of men only added 46 thousand.

Amid the economic crisis, cases in which companies are firing pregnant woman illegally are on the rise.

A thirty-six year old woman who is in her fifth month of pregnancy, and only known by the surname initial “H,” repents the fact that she informed her company manager of her pregnancy because the company has recently placed her the first in line to be fired.

She says, “The company manager has urged me to resign of my will. The manager also said that if I wanted to keep my position, they would give me half of my regular income.”

Another woman worker with the surname initial “K,” who is thirty-seven years old and in her fifth month of pregnancy has also been urged to resign from the company after receiving unpaid holidays. “K” says, “It is impossible to get another job after quitting due to my pregnancy. If the company treated my case as a forced resignation, then I could file a jobless claim, however they have urged me to make a document in which I declare that I resigned from the company voluntarily.” A person who resigns from his company voluntarily cannot file for unemployment claim.

Yu Da-young, a consultant for labor-management relations, says, “Companies have tried to avoid forced resignations because the Labor Ministry can sometimes investigate the cases for unfair dismissal.” She added, “If a pregnant woman made a document in which she said she resigned from the company voluntarily, the company may be able to avoid an inspection.”

The Korea Women’s Hot Line (KWHL) said on Tuesday that there are sharp increases in cases in which women workers are calling the KWHL about this kind of discrimination. Requests for consultation related to this form of discrimination have increased to 38 cases during the January to March period compared to 14 cases from the same period last year.

Cho U-kyun, an official in the department on women workers in the Labor Ministry says, “A female worker who has been urged to make a false report about her resignation should file a petition with the National Labor Relations Commission instead of accepting the company’s request.”

Seon-Back Mi-rock, an activist of KWHL, however, criticizes the Labor Ministry, and says, “The Labor Ministry should not pass the buck to female workers. They should strengthen their inspection of cases of discrimination.”

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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