ITUC-AP Statement on Construction Site Fire in Ichoen, Korea, on 29 April 2020

May 2020
United Nations
OHS, ITUC-AP, Solidarity, Decentwork, Stopkillingus, OHSisnotoption

Today, the ITUC-AP published its statement extending its sincere condolence to the families of the victims that have lost their lives by industrial accident at a construction site in Icheon, Korea, on 29 April 2020, killing 38 workers and having injured 10 other workers. The ITUC-AP also sent its letter to Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, to express our strong dismay in rampant industrial accidents with our demands for an adequate and effective national occupational safety and health policy framework to eradicate industrial hazards.  

Shoya Yoshida, General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation – Asia Pacific (ITUC-AP), said “We must stop this now. Industrial accidents and diseases are a man-made crime to humanity since any person’s life cannot be weighed with anything and labour is noble to sustain our society, community and family, Workers are not numbers but humans. Stop killing us”.

In Korea, more than 2,000 workers are killed by industrial accidents and diseases per year. This means that 7 workers every day cannot come back to their family (5 days per week, 52 weeks per year). Furthermore, Korea is one of worst OECD countries with high industrial fatality rate.

The statement strongly condemns the increasing outsourcing of occupational hazards and deaths in Korea while deregulation and fragmentation with greater precariousness in the Korean labour market have been becoming more acute. Indeed, the Korean government’s occupational safety and health policy framework, including necessary inspection, has been underdeveloped in order only to protect interests of business with soft punishments while thousands of workers lose their lives and limbs every day. In particular, most vulnerable workers - youth, women, youth, migrant workers, precarious workers, have been suffering the most without protection.

Therefore, he called for the Korean governments to ensure a thorough investigation and severe punishment of those who are involved in the industrial action, and to provide full supports for the victims’ families.

In the statement, he also emphasised that in order to eliminate occupational hazards and create an environment in which workers can work with peace of mind, it is necessary to promote social dialogue based on trust building among social partners.

The ITUC-AP Statement and letter to President Moon Jae-in is attached.

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