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Korea labour exports to resume

20/11/2013 - 21:58:00
Korea labour exports to resume
Labour export to Korea is set to soon resume through policies preventing and punishing runaway workers.

In August 2012 the Korean government suspended the employment permit system (EPS) programme for Vietnam due to the high rate (over 50 per cent) of runaway guest workers who did not return home after their contracts expired.

The move affected around 14,000 Vietnamese workers who passed Korean language tests and completed procedures.

Over the last year, agencies have strived to minimise the chance of runaway workers and recently Korea’s Ministry of Employment and Labour inked a memorandum of understanding with Vietnamese counterpart the Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs (MoLISA) to reactivate the programme.

The plan is to sign a special memorandum governing EPS for a test year, after which, if the number of runaway workers decreases, Korea will sign an official EPS with Vietnam.

The agreement is expected to prioritise three labour export groups: those who have already completed language tests and procedures under the previous EPS; workers from poor areas who have registered for language tests but have yet to complete them because of the programme suspension; and previous labourers who went to Korea and returned and passed the EPS-TOPIK test and had yet to return to Korea to work.

According to MoLISA Deputy Minister Nguyen Thanh Hoa, the two sides are in negotiations to sign the special memorandum this month or next.

If things go according to plan, in the last part of this year export labourers in the three priority groups would have their records sent to Korean employers who will select 4,600 qualified applicants.

Deputy head of MoLISA’s Overseas Labour Export Department (OLED) Dao Cong Hai said the department was actively working on expediting policies and measures to prevent and deal with runaway guest workers in Korea.

Vietnam has piloted a $4,800 deposit scheme at the Bank for Social Policies where labourers put up money against the cost of contract violations and other fines, for example if they leave early. If they return home according to their agreements, they receive the full amount back with interest.

In cases where the labourers disappear after terminating their contracts, their deposit will not be refunded.

Additionally, labourers who break their contracts and stay to work in Korea will be punished with a $4,800 fine. People who collude with illegal workers in Korea will be subject to the same fine.

In an effort to encourage illegal workers to return home, from October 10 to January 10, 2014 those who come back will be absolved from financial penalties.

By Phan Long

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