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Moon calls for measures against pandemic-driven labor market inequality

All News 12:27 October 20, 2020

SEOUL, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday urged the administration to step up efforts in tackling the seemingly expanding labor market inequality caused by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

"COVID-19 is increasingly pushing the livelihoods of workers within economic blind spots, including those of special-employment type workers, towards the brink," Moon said during a weekly Cabinet meeting held at Cheong Wa Dae.

The president highlighted the growing number of death reports of overworked parcel delivery workers this year as an example of growing inequality in working conditions. Moon urged the Cabinet to expediently produce special measures in order to prevent such a tragic incident from repeating.

The remarks were made apparently in reaction to the news Monday that a contract parcel delivery worker employed by the logistics company Hanjin Express died recently from suspected overwork.

President Moon Jae-in holds a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Oct. 20, 2020. (Yonhap)

This year alone, 12 workers in the parcel delivery industry have died in cases believed to be related to overwork, according to the civic task force working for the rights of delivery workers, as the new coronavirus outbreak triggered a surge in online shopping and parcel volumes.

The president stressed that support toward the economically vulnerable working class must be sustained through systemic programs and moving away from one-off subsidy or grant programs. Moon also ordered officials to strengthen supervision of workplace labor conditions.

Moon also called for better support and protection toward the female-heavy temporary workforce in the care service industry, such as child care and nursing, where in-person human contact is virtually unavoidable.

"The non-regular workers (in the industry) are exposed to the threat of coronavirus transmissions, while they have also suffered severely economically from cuts in jobs," Moon said.

The president also highlighted the need to address the troubles and needs of those in poverty while mentioning cases where people in extreme poverty or with disabilities were found dead in their homes alone during the pandemic.

South Korea lost about 392,000 jobs in September, marking a decline in the number of the employed for the seventh consecutive month, as the coronavirus pandemic hammered job markets, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

The coronavirus outbreak has hit temporary workers hard, with the number of those workers plunging by 303,000 in September. Jobs for day laborers shed 41,000 over the period.

Members of a civic group supporting delivery service workers stage a rally in Seoul on Oct. 19, 2020, to call for the government to come up with measures to prevent them from dying as a result of being overworked. (Yonhap)


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