Ms. Park who has worked for 14 years at a subsidiary company of Hyundai motors at Asan, Korea was dismissed from her job after she complained about sexual harassment in her workplace. Ms. Park in a remarkable effort to get justice went the distance that many others had not dared to go. She held a Sit-In protest of 197 days demanding for the punishment of the perpetrators and for her reinstatement. During those 197 days, she held Sit-In protest not only at the factory gate but also in front of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. While she was on the Sit-In protest, she was repeated assaulted by company hired guards at the both venues and as a result of the assaults she even had to spend four weeks in hospital.
In the support of Ms. Park’s resolute struggle against Sexual Harassment and violation of workers’ right, Korean Metal Workers Union and NGA:SF Korea (Network for Glocal Activism: School of Feminism) decided to initiate an international campaign which resulted in a press conference in front of the headquarters of Hyundai Motors on 25th November 2011.
|Press Conference in front of Hyundai Headquarters|
The press conference was supported by and the public statement issued was signed by New Socialist Initiative (Delhi Chapter, India), Stree Mukti Sangathan (India), Women's Global Network for Reproductive Rights, Asian Pacific Workers Solidarity Links, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development (New York, USA), Sahgnnoksoo (Seattle, Washington, USA), Change to Win (USA), Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment-GABRIELA (USA), Center for Workers Education (India), Women Workers Lead (India), MAKABAYAN (The Philippines), Ecumenical Institute for Labor Education and Research (The Philippines), Workers Assistance Center (The Philippines), General Federation of Nepalese Trade Unions (Nepal), Qingdao Workers Hotline (China), Labour Action China (Hong Kong), Asian Monitor Resource Center (Hong Kong), National Free Trade Union (Sri Lanka), Thai Labour Campaign (Thailand), Serve the People Association (Taiwan), Salud Intergral para la Mujer (Mexico), Red Genero y Economia (Mexico), Migrant Workers Trade Union (Korea), International Metalworkers' Federation, International Union of Food, Building and Wood Workers' International, International Trade Union Confederation, Metal workers union (Slovakia), Federasi Serikat Pekerja Metal (Indonesia), National Union of Metalworkers (South Africa), United Auto Workers, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
Letters of protests were also sent by various organizations to The Ministry of Employment and Labor, The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, The Hyundai Motors demanding reinstatement of Ms. Park and that the perpetrators be brought to book.
To mount more international pressure on Hyundai Motors and Korean Government a call for Global Action day was announced and demonstrations were held outside Hyundai Motors dealership in various countries on 2nd December 2011. In United States alone, from New York to Los Angeles, 75 demonstrations were held outside Hyundai motors dealership. Unfortunately, the Indian Trade Union centres did not pay heed to the global call for solidarity nor did Hyundai Motors Employee Union, India undertake any solidarity action.
Finally, after this long drawn battle by Ms. Park and the international solidarity campaign, The Ministry of Employment and Labor (Korea) was forced to intervene.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor considered the mental trauma that Ms. Park underwent as an industrial accident. The ministry further decided that it would pay her medical expenses she incurred during her protest. It is the first time in the history of modern Korea that the victim's mental pain after sexual harassment on the factory floor shop has been regarded as an industrial accident.
Hyundai Globis (the logistic wing of Hyndai Motor), Hyungjin Company (the sub-contractor of Hyundai Motors), Korea Metal Workers' Union and Ms. Park signed an agreement according to which Hyungjin Company has:
- To dismiss the offender by 31th January, 2012 and has to reinstate Ms. Park by 1st February, 2012.
- To pay wages for the months that she was unfairly dismissed.
- To prohibit any gendered disadvantages at the work place.
- To prepare comprehensive measures to prevent recurrence of sexual harassment.
- To set up the program to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.