Government of South Korea must act to halt massive abuse of migrant agricultural workers
The migrant workers on whom South Korean agriculture depends suffer appalling living and working conditions, and the government's Employment Permit Scheme (EPS) directly contributes to this exploitation, according to a new report (Bitter Harvest) from Amnesty International. The report documents intimidation and violence, squalid accommodation, excessive working hours, unpaid overtime, an absence of weekly rest days and workers forced to apply pesticides without protective clothing. CLICK HERE TO SEND A MESSAGE TO THE GOVERNMENT
There are approximately 20,000 migrant agricultural workers in South Korea, with many arriving from Cambodia, Nepal and Vietnam under the EPS. The majority take on huge debts equivalent to two years' salary in their home country to get a job in South Korea.
"The EPS leaves migrant workers at the mercy of unscrupulous employers who take advantage of the system's severe restrictions on migrants' ability to change jobs. For many migrants saddled with huge debts, staying with an abusive boss appears the only option", said AI researcher Norma Kang Muico.
The IUF has joined with Amnesty in calling for urgent action by the Korean government to stop this systematic pattern of exploitation.
IUF Asia/Pacific regional secretary Hidayat Greenfield commented, "We are supporting education and organizing of migrant workers employed on farms in Korea, particularly workers from Cambodia, to raise awareness of their rights and build collective bargaining power to tackle abusive working conditions.
"The IUF Asia/Pacific joins Ai's call for fundamental reform of the EPS to end abusive employment practices, provide greater protection of migrant workers, and enable migrant workers to exercise their fundamental rights including the right to organize and bargain collectively".
Click here to support the campaign by sending a message to the government through Amnesty's on-line campaign page.