South Korean labour laws reduce migrant workers to slaves
Since March 9, seven migrant workers have been on a hunger strike in immigration detention centers in Hwasung and Yesoo and at Myeongdong Cathedral. The conditions of these deportation centers are even worse than South Korean prisons. These workers have basically put their lives "on the line" for migrant rights in South Korea.
On July 31st 2003, the South Korean government passed a new migrant worker management system, entitled, the Act on Employment of Foreign Labourers or otherwise known as the Employment Permit System (EPS). This law is to take into effect on August 2004. This new law along with the Industrial Trainee System is basically South Korean's version of a slave system.
To migrant workers, the EPS is a law that allows slavery. According to the new law, migrant workers can work in South Korea for only three years and for only one employer. Since migrant workers cannot change their work place, the employer basically has complete control over the wages and working conditions of migrant workers; thus these workers are bound to the employer like slaves.
In preparation for the implementation of the EPS, since November 16, 2003, the South Korean government has been consistent in their policy of seeking out and deporting migrant workers who have been in South Korea for more than four years. This policy has resulted in the tragic deaths of nine migrant workers who chose death instead of returning to their home country.