PSPD Newsletter : January 2014
- 2014.01.27 (18:28:49)
PSPD English Newsletter : January 2014
<The report from Lee Tae-ho, secretary-general of PSPD>
A New Year has begun. I wish all of you healthy life and the happiness.
I have greeted a new year in Gangjeong village, Jeju Island. Gangjeong holds a sunrise event on the first day every year. It has been harsh and difficult time for residents of Gangjeong village last year but they gathered together to give well-wishing remarks, hug each other, share warm hearts and danced Gangjeong Dance until wet.
Without recalling Gangjeong and Milyang, the year 2013 was neither a peaceful nor happy year for many people.
Nevertheless, the life goes on. An end road is the beginning of a new road. The people continuously wriggle for the hope here and there.
I would like to roughly look back PSPD’s footsteps last year.
• Through the whole last year, PSPD has organized the Council for Current Situation and put all its strengths to reveal the facts for NIS’s illegal intervention in the presidential election, and also prepare for prevention measures. Park Geun-hye government has defended with pro-North Korea manipulation and police security, and tried to minimize, conceal and interfere investigation on the other hand. Despite of all that, PSPD didn’t get shrunken and persistently led candle rallies.
• Under a catch phrase ‘The world does not get better without efforts’ PSPD executives, activists and members carried out ‘Direct actions’ in November and December giving fresh stimulation to various fields. The first Direct action was composed of marching of activists shouting out ‘Let’s go to work worrying about the democracy’ and exclusive march of 500 people. During the second Direct action period, PSPD executives relayed one-person demonstration in front of the Blue House and the National Assembly. Monitoring a reform bill of NIS Law persisted. These leading activities are believed to contribute to a large scale candle rallies around one year anniversary of the Presidential election.
• ‘Saving Euls’ movement to fight back against large conglomerates was heated up and PSPD successfully raised this issue as a core agenda for the democracy in economy. As a result, slavery contracts between franchisees and franchisers were changed in depth through the reform of the Franchise Business Act and unfair trade practices between sales agents and Namyang Dairy and CJ CheilJedang has improved by collective bargaining.
• Besides above, followings are what PSPD has been active for the last year
△ To reform prosecutors’ office to protect prosecutors from external political pressures
△ Support public whistle blowers who reported illegalities of national organizations, large conglomerates and regional governments such as NIS.
△ To stop privatization of railroads and hospitals
△ Solidarity and support for Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union, Korean Government Employees' Union, Korea Railroad Workers Union against unfair oppression of the government
△ Monitor irregular jobs in the public sector
△ To reform Pension Scheme including Basic Old-age Pension
△ Legislation to ease household loans and to improve house rent system
△ To reform tax system in preparation to secure finance for the welfare
△ Report corrupted businessmen such as Lee Seik-chae, a former chairman of KT
△ Press charges to three mobile communication providers which submitted personal information to National organizations without consent.
△ To improve biased and arbitral Broadcasting and Communication Deliberation System
△ To reduce arms spending to ease the tension increased after nuclear test of North Korea and settle down the peace in Korean peninsula
△ Movement to oppose Jeju Naval Base construction
△ To stop expanding nuclear power facilities and transmission tower construction in the line with making a nuclear free society
PSPD has been passionately organizing various activities and movements for participatory democracy, human rights, welfare and democracy in economy.
• PSPD held a New Year press conference and resolve to make the year 2014 △ a year of victories for the truth, justice and the people, △ a year people are happy △ a year the peace shows its strength
• PSPD becomes 20 years-old in 2014. In celebration of becoming an adult, PSPD promises to move together with citizens in order to be stronger and more mature. PSPD wants to be a friend staying beside during the hard time and a playground for dreaming citizens. I believe that you will be with us in 2014 too.
This is the end of reports form secretary-general
<Civil and Political rights related activities>
Don’t let whistle blowers’ righteous act become lonely
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1117732 - Korean only)
* ‘2013 Public Whistle Blower’s Night and Righteous Citizen Award’ on 19 December
The Public Whistle Blower Support Center of PSPD (President Dr. Shin Gwang-sik) held ‘2013 Public Whistle Blower’s Night and Righteous Citizen Award’ on the 20th floor of Korea Press Center at the National Press Club on 19 December. PSPD has hold the Righteous Citizen Awards every year since 2010 for whom report corruption, wasting budget, and non-conscientious acts of national organizations or/and corporations to a related organization or inform to the press/civil societies.
This year, awards went to seven righteous whistle blowers. Five Righteous Citizen Awards were given to Kim Dam-yi a former nursery teacher who reported wrongful operation of Pyongchang nursery president, Kim Woong-bae, a former sales agent of Namyang Dairy who recorded and disclosed unfair acts of Namyang Dairy, Park Eun-sun, a former society teacher of Gangwon foreign high school who informed entrance absurdity, Yoon Sang-gyeong, a former employee of the Korea Health and Welfare Information Service who reported incorrect spending of project fund of Lee Bong-hwa a president at that time, Jeong Jin-geuk, a former employee of POSCO affiliate who exposed manipulation of Co-growth performance of POSCO Group. Special Righteous Citizen Awards went to Kwon Eun-hee and Edward Snowden. Kwon told the press and testified that police executives tried to minimize and conceal NIS’s online comments scandal and she is currently an investigation head of Songpa police. Snowden, a former CIA disclosed operation of NSA’s prism surveillance program. A plaque and one million won were presented to each awardee.
The chairman of Righteous Citizen Award Review Committee commented that 13 people were nominated and the selection focused on whistle blowers who dealt with unknown matters and the social vulnerable from oppression. Especially, there were two serious and important exposures this year that the committee decided to spare special budget to give them a special righteous citizen award. In addition, he also mentioned “Except Kwon Eun-hee, the rest awardees have lost their jobs or livelihood after revealing the truth, and also being ignored by their organizations. However, they have scarified themselves for conscience that we all have to keep”.
Except Snowden exiled to Russia, more than 100 not only 6 awardees but also families and concerned parties participated in the ceremony. At the Whistle Blower’s Night, the first part of the ceremony, tens of whistle blowers introduced themselves and shared experience before and after exposing corruptions and absurdities. Unfortunately, most of them failed to go back to the job after being fired. Cho Yeon-hee, a teacher reported absurdity of the Dongil Girls High School foundation to the Regional Office of Education in 2003 has back to a public school as an administration officer in June 2013 that participants congratulated her.
The second part was Righteous Citizens Awards and people who helped, supported and recommended nominees directly presented awards. Kwon Eun-hee, an investigation chief said ‘I am honored to receive this award from people who worked hard for the freedom, justice and the public authorities to execute its power correctly. As a public investigator who receives reports and information on corruptions and absurdities from citizens, I feel deeply sorry for what whistle blowers are going through”. Kim Dam-yi, a nursery teacher said that she would like to live in a country where people committed crimes are punished than praises and support whistle blowers. Kim Woong-bae, a former Namyang sale agent said there has been no apology from the company after the incident that he would like to see the company sincerely apologize. A teacher Park Eun-sun confessed that she has felt uncomfortable after being involved in entrance absurdity to be promoted to a regular teacher from a part-timer. That’s why she decided to tell the truth despite of disadvantages would be given to her. Jeong Jin-geuk, reported manipulation of Co-growth performance of POSCO Group shared his disappointment with one of his senior who supported him to whistle blow before he was dismissed that the senior is now testifying against him at the court. Jeong had a bitter smile and said he tried to control his mind to spend this crucial time for the better.
We are living in a society where whistle blowers are stigmatized that they are ignored from organizations and lose their jobs. Even though the Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) and the Labor Council determine unfair dismissal, only a few organizations would reinstate employment. I hope 2013 PSPD’s Whistle Blowers’ Night and Righteous Citizen Award could give a comfort, support and courage to all whistle blowers.
<Socio-Economic Rights related Activities>
‘Time-based jobs’, another name for a bad job
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1113740 - Korean only)
‘Decent time-based work’, ‘Quality time-based work’, ‘Flexible working hours’….. They are called differently but just other names for short-term low wage irregular works. Time-based job is a core policy for Park Geun-hye government targeting 70% employment rate but there are much higher worries and criticism than social expectation. ‘Guideline for adopting and managing time-based work’ published by the Ministry of Employment and Labor explains that time-based job meets worker’s voluntary demand, secure basic labor condition and has no irrational discrimination with full time in terms of working condition.
However, what the Committee for Fair Labor Society of PSPD found out is significantly different from the Ministry’s argument. The research was conducted for 4,080 time-based jobs in five organizations which offer the most among public organizations under the Ministry of planning and budget.
First of all, 99.8% of new jobs created are irregular. Flexible working hours which seem to be chosen accordingly to the need of a worker, that is; the case a current full time employee has changed to a flexible working hour job reaches only 0.7%. The rest 99.3% are created by the needs of organizations. Working conditions are also weak. Most of wages range from the minimum defined by law to 7~8,000 KRW per hour. Four major insurances are secured partly. Little offers bonus, and fringe benefits and welfare are not clear. Time-based workers are not eligible for promotion. Even so, probability is very low.
The Ministry of Planning and Budget is planning to hire 13,000 new time-based workers in the public sector until 2017. How many would be hired is announced but wages, working hours, regular or irregular are not known yet. No one can guarantee if these new jobs would be better than what the research has found. Concerns are raised on producing new low wage irregular jobs under the name of time-based.
For more details, please see an issue report ‘Current status of time-based jobs in the public sector Part I: Public organizations’ at http://www.peoplepower21.org/1113740 (Korean only)
<Peace and Disarmament>
What you have constrained is the peace!
Gangjeong End-year Peace Concert
(for further information, please visit http://www.peoplepower21.org/1111282 - Korean only)
People who love and keep the peace in Gangjeong village gathered in a grand hall of the Catholic Center in Myengdong at 7pm on 16 December. There was an end-year peace concert to wish releases of the people who have been jailed because of putting down farming tools and resisting against the state’s violence with bare hands. The concert also raised funds to pay off penalties levied on peace-keepers.
Various artists performed in the concert and catholic priests Mun Jeong-hyun, Mun Gyu-hyun and peace-keepers including Kang Dong-gyun the head of Gangjeong village have participated. In front of the hall entrance, Jeju Peace Vendors have sold Jeju Mandarin chips, Woo island bundle of lavers and Mandarin Jams. Peace postcards were handed out which would be sent to three people in jail who tried to stop Jeju Naval Base construction.
In the talk show section, friends of peace keepers who are in jail shared memories of eating tomatoes, playing at Gangjeong stream, and a friendship as a movie director and a critic. Audiences laughed, wept and thought about peace-keepers. Gangjeong residents and Dr. Song Kang-ho also stayed with the concert. They have been arrested and confined while peacefully opposing naval base construction and recently released. They showed strong will to stop Jeju Naval Base construction for the peace of Gangjeong despite of hard and tough time they spent in prison.
Since 2010, more than 650 residents and activists have been taken to the police fighting against Jeju Naval Base construction. Yearly more than 600 have faced a trial and more than 680 cases were prosecuted. Aggregated penalties for court cases both under trial and already decided reaches approximately 300 million KRW. Penalties imposed to Gangjeong village are the price of fights on behalf of all of us. Therefore, ‘Fund Raising Preparation Committee (tentative) for penalties imposed for opposing Jeju Naval Base Construction’ was established at this concert by figures from different fields including religion, civil society, academy, legal and arts. The committee will start collecting contributions to cover trial expenses and penalties.
Gangjeong residents are resisting peacefully with all their hearts in order to stop Jeju Naval Base construction. Civil and social organizations including PSPD will fight together with Gangjeong residents till the end.