|▲ A coalition action group to stop death by overwork holds a press briefing to announce the launch of its campaign on September 12 in Seoul.(photo by Jeong Ki-hoon/The Korea Daily Labor News)|
Deaths and suicides caused by excessive overwork take place everywhere regardless of vocation in Korea.
For a period between last year to February this year, six sudden occupational mortality cases were reported at the Seoul Digital Industrial Complex or G-Valley in Seoul. They were the employees of Netmarble - a Korean mobile game publishing company - and LG Electronics Research Institute. Two of them committed suicides.
In July this year, a postman burned himself to death in front of his post office in Anyang, a satellite city of Seoul. This year alone, 15 post workers were dead or committed suicides allegedly due to the excessive long working hours. Even in January this year, a public employee of the Ministry of Heath and Welfare was found dead at the office.
A group of some 30 labor, civic and social organizations such as the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU), Minbyun-Lawyers for a Democratic Society and Solidarity for Worker's Health on September 12 joined hands together and formed an action coalition called "Overwork-Death-Out Joint Action Committee" for the prevention of and compensation for the deaths and suicides caused by overwork.
According to the Joint Action Committee, the annual average number of overwork death recognized as industrial accidents reaches the level of 310, among whom about 35% are the suicides.
Even though the excessive long hours of work is identified as the main cause of occupational illness and death, the legal provisions on the contrary promote the practice of long working hours. The special legal provisions promulgated in 1961 allow the unlimited extended work for the workers in 26 vocations such as post workers, bus and taxi drivers, electronic system developers, movie production staffers, medical and sanitation workers, etc. According to the Statistics Korea, about 60% of all workplaces and 48% of the total waged workers nationwide are subjected to the special legal provisions of the Labor Standards Act.
reported by Jeh Jeong-nam
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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