Last Sunday, DJ Gennie Kim hosted a consultation for EPS workers with Rep. Jasmine Lee. The event was held at the Korea Port Training Institute in Incheon.
Rep. Jasmine Lee is a part of the Labor Committee of Korea’s National Assembly. She has been consulting with labor groups and employers discussing issues that affect both.
The forum last Sunday enabled Rep. Jasmine Lee to hear from the EPS workers themselves their working and living conditions.
Question 1: About changing the E9 visa to E7
~ It is possible to change the E9 visa to E7. With the latter visa, the foreign worker could invite their dependent to live in the country. Then they could work on having the F2 (temporary visa) and then the F5 (permanent residence) allowing them more freedom and opportunity to work in Korea. The requirements needed to change from E9 to E7 may be quite difficult to obtain for applicants. There have only been 43 successful applicants who managed to have their visas change.
Question 2: About maltreatment, physical abuse
~ The worker has to prove the maltreatment or physical abuse with evidence to show the police. This could be in the form of photos, recording and statements from witness. Usually, when the worker files a complaint with the police they are coerced by the employer to drop the charges. Once the charge has been dropped, the cycle goes on. The worker is advised that if the police doesn’t listen to them, they should go to an NGO that supports EPS workers.
Question 3: Deductions
~ EPS workers are entitled to four kinds of insurance, severance pay and departure insurance. There are some employers that deducts the amount of these insurance but they don’t actually remit them to the proper agency. In this case, the worker should collect all the payslips as proof that they are being deducted for them. The company could be reported to the appropriate agency ~
Question 4: Release of Worker
~ With the EPS, a worker’s visa is dependent on the company employing them. Running away from the company they are employed at could mean a violation of their visa. When a worker experiences maltreatment or abuse, one of their recourse is to ask for a release. When an employer is “released”, they could still stay in Korea for up to three months. During those three months, they should find another employer that could sponsor their visa. If not, the EPS worker has to go back home.
Question 5: Labor union
~ Can EPS workers join a union? Yes.
Question 6: Vacation leave
~ EPS workers are entitled to 15 days of paid leave annually. The employees need to use them as they cannot be monetized if not spent. The employee cannot insist on the days they want to have the leave ~ for example, even if an employee wants to have a break during the Christmas season but the factory is busy, the employer may not grant the leave.
I left the venue at around 5pm while the Q&A was still ongoing.