Mayor Park at a Press Briefing about Temp Workers in Seoul
I confess that there have been times when I wondered why I wanted to be mayor of Seoul in the first place. Sometimes I feel overburdened by an endless array of challenging problems. At other times I can’t help feeling devastated by conflict after conflict with no solutions on the horizon. Today is not one of those days. Today I feel rewarded for all my hard work. I am happy that I am your mayor.
I finally signed a document about changing the status of 6,231 temporary workers to permanent ones, including 4,172 cleaners, 731 laborers at social welfare facilities, 512 guards and 816 parking attendants, mechanics and others. In May 2012, I decided to change the status of 1,133 temporary workers in the area of park and facility management to permanent workers, since their jobs have been steady and permanent for years.
The transfer to permanent worker status for 6,123 laborers will be completed on different dates according to the situations of their direct employers under the city government. For instance, 3,116 cleaners working at Seoul Metro and SMRT (Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation) will become permanent workers of their new public subsidiary company as of June 1, 2013 as their contracts with a private employment business expires. Another 1,056 cleaners working for City Hall and the affiliated corporations will become permanent employees of the city government as their individual employment contracts expire. These cleaners suffered from the worst terms and conditions of employment contracts for decades.
Many still believe that hiring them as permanent full-time workers would cost a lot. On the contrary, the city will save money. Direct employment of the cleaners, for instance, will cost the city government 16% more in wages. However, the city government will be able to save 39% of its previous contract amount in management expenses and profits. It is estimated that at least 5.3 billion won will be saved each year from the employment status change that these workers have aspired to for years. It has turned out that realizing their dream is not a fiscal issue, but an idea issue.
No doubt, their employment status change is not just an economic matter. It has put their biggest worry, job insecurity, to rest. Come to think of it, how could we expect them to be passionate about their job while they could be dismissed any time? If we continue to neglect the hard labor they perform under the worst working circumstances, can we say that we are living in a just and fair society? What I have done today is just return to natural common sense regarding labor and the efforts to recover humanity in the city administration. That is the way the city of Seoul will continue to go.