PSPD Newsletter: May-June 2013
- 2013.06.03 (13:37:50)
PSPD English Newsletter : May - June 2013
<Greetings from PSPD>
Hello, readers! Greetings from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general of PSPD
It was very intense May. Rebellion of ‘Eul’s has begun nationwide. When writing a contract in Korea, ‘Gaab’ and ’Eul’ are set words used to refer contractors. Gaab refers to a contractor in a higher position or with an initiative and Eul means a contractor relatively in a lower position or with less power. The movement to achieve economic democratization was heated up from the ground. Incidents disgracing 5.18 Gwangju democratic movement kindled historical controversy. Evidences showing undisguised and organized intervention of the National Intelligence Service in domestic affairs were disclosed. Tax evasion scandals of conglomerates and the privileged started to reveal. Screams and overwhelming angers bursted out in Gangjeong, Milyang and Jinju from who have been kicked out and forced out.
PSPD stands up for rebellion of Euls against super Gaabs
• Vicious unfair acts of Namyang Dairy Products* over its agencies were exposed in early May. To speak out for Euls who have been suffered from tyranny of super Gaabs, PSPD and the Economic Democratization Forum held a presentation on 7 May ‘Cases of unfair and tyranny acts of conglomerates and large companies, and consequent damages and complaints’. On 15 May, PSPD presented additional list together with the Union of Namyang Dairy Agencies ‘Damages and complaints heard from former agencies’.
* Namyang Dairy Products is one of the biggest dairy producers in Korea. The audio transcript disclosed last May sparked anger of the public that a Namyang salesman was verbally violent and forcibly handed over products to an agency. ‘Forcibly handover products’ refers to a vicious act that headquarter salesmen increase own sales performance by forcing agencies to accept products. The structural problem makes it worse that agencies have to bear losses incurred from unsold products.
• Thereupon, the Convenient Store Franchisees Association declared to stop selling Namyang Dairy’s products followed by people joining in consumer strikes. Additionally, the Consultative for Emergency Measures to Save Small businesses and Self-employees was launched on 22 May.
• The Campaign for Anyone with Stable Life of PSPD and Minbyun (Lawyers for Democratic Society) will form a counsel to ‘Save Euls in Korea’ consisting of around 20 lawyers. Lee Heon-wook, the leader of the Campaign for Anyone with Stable Life will be in charge.
PSPD is always present at Milyang, Gangjeong, Jinju and Pyeongtaek
• Construction of transmission tower was forced in Milyang and some aged residents fainted during the protest. Co-representative of PSPD visited the site with representatives of civil society and the construction is temporarily suspended at the moment.
• Amid protestants’ tent in front of the naval base construction site of Gangjeong Village was forcibly dismantled, one resident fell down under the bridge of Gangjeong stream. The National Counterplan Consultative in which PSPD joins and Gangjeong Village Council reported it to the police on the charge of exercising excessive forces during dismantlement process.
• The protest of Ssangyong Motors by living on a transmission tower had to be discontinued because of health conditions of two protesters. PSPD in cooperation with Ssangyong Motors workers is urging political parties to execute National Assembly investigation in regard to layoff of Ssangyong Motors and immediately reinstate discharged workers as promised earlier.
• Hong Jun-pyo, the governor forced closedown of Jinju hospital on 30 May. PSPD is doing its best to stop finalizing the decision. It visited both leading and opposition parties with union members of public health and joined in ‘Bus for life’ heading to Jinju.
• For the peace, reconciliation and cooperation in Korean peninsula, the Joint Conference for the peace of Korean Peninsula was launched on 15 May by more than 100 civil organizations and religious leaders. Venerable monk Dobeop, the chairman of reconciliation committee at Chogye Order and Jeong Hyun-beak co-representative of PSPD were elected for presidents.
PSPD is active in diverse fields
• The reform bill of Security Service Industry Act passed the National Assembly on 7 May. This is fruits of seven-year efforts since 2006 when PSPD has raised the issue and filed a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission alleging human rights violated by security service contractors. The reformed Act reinforces standards for permission and deployment of security service. When illegal violence occurs, it is allowed to issue an administrative order to force contractors to step back from the site.
• 32 organizations including PSPD, Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) demanded the government to increase the hourly minimum wage to 5.910 KRW from 2014 which only reaches to 50% of average monthly wages of whole labor. On the other hand, the government suggested the minimum 4,860 KRW in 2013.
• Newstapa, an internet independent press and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) have revealed the list of paper companies established in tax havens by Korean. Hence, the Center for tax reform of PSPD is organizing activities urging tax investigation on offshore tax evasions and corresponding punishment.
• Recently, documents titled ‘Seoul Mayor’s left-inclined administration and counteract tips’ and ‘Block spread-out of leftist’s argument on tuition fee by falsifying’ were disclosed. As they seem composed by National Intelligence Service (NIS), it is confirmed that NIS has regarded the opposition party, civil society and the people who are critical to the government an enemy and operated psychological welfare. PSPD recruited 111 citizens for three days from 24 May and reported Won Se-hoon, the president of NIS and relevant officers to the prosecutor’s office on 28 May. Number of citizens 111 satirizes NIS’s phone number 111.
• It was banned to sing ‘March for the beloved‘* in unison at the commemoration of 5.18 Gwangju Democratic Movement** this year. Moreover, TV general service channels had distorted historical facts by reporting a groundless opinion that North Korean soldiers were involved in Gwangju democratic movement. Therefore, PSPD presented a comment that distorting history and insulting victims must stop, and held a relevant discussion.
* ‘March for the beloved’ is made to commemorate the young sacrificed during Gwangju Democratic Movement. It has been an official song and sang to remember Gwangju movement.
** 5.18 Gwangju Democratic Movement is ten days civil resistance of Gwangju citizens against suppression of government troops under the martial law from 18 to 27 May 1980. It is a political tragedy which resulted the second largest casualty after the 6.25 Korean War in 1950, and one of the most meaningful and significant incident in the democratization process of Korea.
<Civil and Political rights related activities>
The 19th National Assembly members, are they doing their jobs?
One out of five is “out of office”
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1033955 - Korean only)
After the presidential election, the 19th National Assembly has made agreements to deal with livelihood and economic democratization related bills. During one month of provisional session started on 8 April, 138 motions including Security Service Industry Act, Subcontracting Act, and revised supplementary budget were discussed and put to the vote. Then, did all members sincerely and heartfully review motions and participate in voting for almost 140 motions in a month?
The Center for National Assembly Watch of PSPD analyzed attendance of lawmakers and their participation in voting. The result showed that one out of five did not vote. Especially three members from Saenuri Party did not participate in all 138 ballots. One member from Saenuri and four Democratic Party members were absent from more than 90% voting sessions.
In most cases, members came to the National Assembly for attendance check but failed to vote because they were ‘out of office’, not ‘Absent’. On 30 April the day 52 bills were processed, 281 members came to the Assembly but 63 (22% of the presence) did not participate in voting.
Plenary session is where members share opinions, discuss national policies in general and make final decisions. Members should be blamed and take responsibility if they do not show in plenary session without a reasonable excuse. The Center for National Assembly Watch will announce plenary session attendance report for every session so that voters are well informed whether lawmakers are doing their jobs properly. Details not included in the current report can be found at ‘Be open! The National Assembly Door,’(http://watch.peoplepower21.org), the site run by the Center for National Assembly Watch.
<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>
When ‘Eul’ can live, that’s real democracy in economy
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1037404 - Korean only)
Suicides of convenient store owners, sales personnel at department stores, agencies and so on….
‘Eul’s who lost a hope are taking own lives. Namyang Dairy incident made people to realize how serious ‘Gaab-Eul matter’ is. Minbyun (Lawyers for Democratic Society) which firstly received information reported it to the prosecutor’s office expecting instant seizure and investigation on Namyang Dairy Headquarter. However, prosecutor’s office did not respond properly despite of the seriousness and importance of the crime. In addition, Fair Trade Commission also has ignored complaints of agencies on unfair transactions for many years. This is why the Campaign for Anyone with Stable Life of PSPD had to step forward because its underlying activity was set as “Economic democratization starts with needs of the people” since last year.
Namyang Dairy has systematically destructed agencies in relation to organizing and participating in the association but denied all relevant actions at the prosecutor’s questioning. Nevertheless, the association was formed and demanded collective bargaining to Namyang. With no doubt, Namyang refused the demand at first but eventually accepted it after receiving continuous complaints from civil organizations and collective visit of Democratic Party members to the headquarter to protest. As of end of May, negotiations are facing many difficulties but still going on. Whether agreements would be made is uncertain. Even so, the fact that the association is having open collective bargaining with Namyang headquarter itself is a great and meaningful result. Agencies do not have the rights either to organize or collective bargaining by the law but they are holding hands together and sitting down at the negotiation table right now. This is the basic procedure how ‘Eul’ can confront ‘Gaab’ with equal status. PSPD and Minbyun have submitted a petition proposing enactment of [Act on fair trade/transactions for agencies] on 14 May and the core point is guaranteeing the rights to organize and collective bargaining.
“Presenting victim cases of convenient store franchisees” jointly organized by PSPD, Minbyun and a lawmaker Min Byung-du of Democratic Party on 2 April suggests a good example how PSPD and ‘Eul’s are going to cooperate. Despair and anger of convenient store franchisees over false or/and exaggerated information, excessive suspension penalty and forced 24 hours operation have heated up the press. Thanks to this, the reform bill of Franchise Business Act proposed by PSPD last March was speedily processed and passed the National Policy Committee of National Assembly.
As a result of these activities, the Emergency Committee to save ‘Eul’s in Korea was established on 22 May. The Campaign for Anyone with Stable Life and Civil Economy Committee of PSPD are on the move with a clear objective to reform the system by bringing exploding angers and resistance of ‘Eul’s to the public, organizing a system and making them political issues.
<Peace and Disarmament>
Making weapons with my pension fund? Campaign to withdraw investments of the National Pension Service from cluster bombs
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1011163 - Korean only)
The Peace and Disarmament Center of PSPD launched the campaign together with ‘Joint Action for withdrawing investments of the National Pension Service from cluster bomb’ on 3 April opposing National Pension Service’s investment in cluster bomb productions. The Joint Action disclosed the fact that the National Pension Service, the largest public fund in Korea is the biggest investor for Hanhwa and Poongsan, producers of cluster bomb which is notorious for inhumane weapon in the international society. They are also calling for removing the investment and preparing ethical principles to prohibit investments in inhuman weapons.
One cluster bomb is filled with hundreds of small bomblets that damages can reach to wide area. It indiscriminately kills all regardless of military targets or civilians. Even worse, unexploded bomblets remain on the ground for a long time after the war and cause the second damage. 98% victims of cluster bombs are civilians and 1/3 of them are children. For that reason, international organizations such as UN and International Committee of the Red Cross, and countries like Norway, Mexico and Austria signed and ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2008, and now there are 111 signatories. Naturally, investment in cluster munitions productions is regarded as unethical and becomes more prohibited. Seven nations including Belgium, Italia and New Zealand prohibit the investment by the law. There are 21 state governments which although do not prohibit by domestic law but announced the statement to recommend not to invest on the basis of the convention. Absurdly, Korea is the second biggest producer and the number one importer for cluster bombs besides the fact that it has not even signed the convention.
For two months from April, the Joint Action held campaigns for office workers every Wednesday during lunch hours in front of National Pension Service regional offices in Seoul. They also participated in human rights movie festivals and conventions to promote the issue and urged settlements. Activists costumed in cluster bomb handed out flyers and collected signatures on petition. Some people approached to activists to ask questions and drivers pulled their cars to get flyers. Citizens were stunned that they have been paying pension every month without knowing where their pension funds were used. The petition signed by 1,969 citizens was submitted on 27 May to the National Pension Fund Management Committee of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Joint Action will publicize the issue to more people so that investments in cluster munitions producers are pulled out. Furthermore, they will urge to make framework of ethical investment principles in order for pension funds to be managed in ethical and transparent ways.
Did you know the National Pension Service invests in illegal weapons? See a movie for details please visit http://peoplepower21.org/1011163