|▲ Handmade shoemaking workers subcontracted by Tandy, a Korea's popular local shoe brand, hold a rally for fair pay and treatment. (provided by the Shoemaking Union Chapter of Seoul General Workers' Union)|
About 100 shoemaking workers hired by five subcontracting companies providing services to Tandy, a local brand shoemaker, in Gwanak District in Seoul have put down their tools for 12 days as of April 15 by demanding the increase of piece rate and the resumption of special piece rate payment for the high-skill required works.
Shoemaking workers of the subcontracting companies to Tandy are engaged in the work process of cutting leather patterns and sewing pattern pieces and finishing soles. A pair of Tandy's custom-made shoes generally cost 150,000 won(US$140) to 300,000 won(US$280), but workers only receive 6,500 won(US$6) for a pair of ordinary shoes and 7,000 won(US$6.50) for a pair of quality shoes respectively as piece rates, which have been frozen for eight years.
Most of shoemaking workers are the highly skilled with over 30 years of work experiences. When a pair of shoes are sold 300,000 won(US$280), the portion of labor cost is only 2.3 percent. These workers are not directly employed by Tandy but regarded as independent subcontractors. They have become no longer eligible for the retirement pay benefits but got to bear part of the tax that Tandy is supposed to pay in full.
Shoemaking workers are demanding the piece rate raise, up by 2,000 won(US$1.86) for a pair of shoes, saying that "we should be fairly paid and treated at least as much as we worked so that we can produce quality shoes."
reported by Choi Na-young
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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