Youth Community Union: fighter for youths’ labor rights
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Youth Community Union: fighter for youths’ labor rights
  • Lee Tae-hee, Shin Hyo-jae
  • 승인 2016.05.23 11:36
  • 댓글 0
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Delayed wages, smaller wages than written on the contract, no insurance, harassment are not unusual cases as people commonly go through such happenings. Instead, these problems are perceived as part of our daily lives, as many students have experienced or easily heard about poor working environments.
Recognizing the abnormality of this phenomenon, the young have gathered to fight for worker’s rights. This brave group of youth founded the Youth Community Union (YCU) in March, 2010. Now, around 1,300 members are participating in the union.
 “Our main goal is to enhance youth’s labor rights,” said Lee Ki-won, Deputy Executive Director of YCU. “For this year, from May to June, a minimum wage program will be held to determine next year’s minimum wage. For the process, Chairman Kim Min-su will lead the negotiation and YCU will hold minimum wage campaigns out of the meeting room.”
YCU is the first labor union in Korea to specify its age limit. It is open to all workers between the ages of 15 to 39, regardless of their jobs. YCU has six branches in major cities in Korea and within these branches, there are university student organizations and teams. It takes part in various projects and legislative activities regarding topics such as safe employment, labor rights and stability. It also holds surveys and campaigns to inform people of the reality of working youths.
 “Malfunction of the monitoring agency is the main reason people cannot even receive the minimum wage,” Lee said. “In Korea, there are too many businesses for one supervisor to oversee.”
To solve the current situation, the YCU is partaking in various activities to aid youths to protect their labor rights.
One of the significant projects put forth by the YCU is the minimum wage organization. Due to the assertion that youths should be included in the process of deciding the minimum wage, the Chairman of YCU was able to participate in the capacity of the workers’ committee from 2015. As the committee opts to accurately reflect the voices of youths, anyone passionate enough and willing to participate can join the minimum wage organization. Due to the continuous campaigns by the YCU, it ultimately increased the minimum wage per hour by 8.1 percent, making it 6,030 won.
More recently, the YCU launched its 4.2 VOTEr Day, where YCU and 20 other committees met at Sinchon to encourage university students to vote so that politicians would focus on issues regarding youths. With the slogan “We will vote for change,” the YCU prepared a minimum wage campaign that included events such as ring tossing games and labor advice booths for people who have experienced unfair treatment.
Furthermore, the YCU also visits many universities to give lectures and directly communicate with people in their twenties. They visited universities such as Chongshin University, Incheon National University and Pusan National University to talk with students about labor laws, labor rights and young workers. Also, apart from the minimum wage organization and 4.2 VOTEr Day, Lee noted that further education on labor rights will help solve the situation.
“Students need to know their rights to prevent infringement on theirs,” Lee said. “As a member of YCU, I felt that knowledge is the most important factor. Rather than knowing and understanding every single clause of labor rights, you should be aware of your rights and know an organization where you can question and verify your rights.”
 


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