The Occupational Safety and Health Act, which mandates the installation of resting facilities at workplaces, will come into effect in August. The government is collecting opinions to include implementation targets and standards for installation of rest facilities in subordinate statutes. In this regard, field workers and experts have made specific suggestions. Published in 5 episodes.
I’ve seen programs on TV raising money for poor households. It was a case of a father raising young children alone. My father works as a quick service driver in a small town, so his work fills the screen for a long time. It was so difficult, so many unfortunate scenes appeared on the air, but after receiving and handling one call, I squatted on the cold sidewalk block behind the cold winter apartment complex and waited for the next call. Should a mobile worker’s rest area be on a cold or hot street or in a car that cannot be properly turned on once stretched?
In recent years, the number of mobile workers has increased rapidly. According to the ‘Platform Workers’ Scale and Working Status Report’ released by the Korea Employment Information Service in November last year, the number of platform workers reached 661,000, a threefold increase from the previous year. Among them, the number of workers engaged in delivery, delivery and driving such as delivery platform workers, surrogate drivers, and quick service drivers is overwhelming at 502,000 (75.9%). About 20,000 housework, cleaning, and care service workers often move from one household to another and receive more than one job a day, so the travel time is long.
Apart from platform labor, there are also about 55,000 courier workers, a representative mobile worker. In addition, mobile workers are also mobile workers who visit and inspect household appliances rental products, which are emerging as the smart home industry is rapidly growing. According to the Survey on the Standard Remuneration and Average Wage and Income Levels of Special Type Workers of the Ministry of Employment and Labor (2020), it is estimated that there are about 30,000 visiting inspectors for rental products and about 16,000 home appliance installers.
How and where are so many mobile workers supposed to rest? The characteristic of mobile labor is ‘call-type labor’. Because workers cannot determine the location of their work by themselves, and commissions based on the number of calls make up most of their wages, they are forced to move quickly, work hard, and work long hours at once. In some cases, there is a specific base, such as a company office or warehouse, but the residence time is not long. Since it is not a space for individual workers, there are often not enough toilets, let alone a comfortable rest area. For example, the warehouse where the visiting installers of the Home Appliance and Telecommunication Service Union of the Service Federation go to receive parts or products is a warehouse, so the heating and cooling are not working well. Water purifiers were provided upon request, and there are no chairs for workers to sit for a while. Even the toilets are not segregated by gender, and in the cold winter, the water supply may freeze and burst. The situation is similar at courier terminals and dealerships. A small container is the only space where workers can stay and rest for a while.
This is the case even in cases where there are bases, but mobile workers who do not belong to a specific place of business, such as delivery drivers, and receive calls on the platform must work and rest completely outdoors. In the past, some local governments have provided a space for mobile workers, such as near subway stations. But the number is very small. Looking at Seoul alone, 9 simple shelters for mobile workers have been installed so far. It is still less than one in each autonomous district. It is virtually impossible for a mobile worker who works in an east, west, north, south and east direction to take a break by visiting a shelter near the ○○ subway station in ○○-gu, even within their own district, on purpose. In addition, shelters in local governments are often only open until 6pm on weekdays. It cannot meet the needs of those who work until night, such as those who deliver food and drive by proxy.
As the Occupational Safety and Health Act was partially revised last year, the installation of rest facilities became compulsory. Although the Ministry of Labor is currently drafting an enforcement ordinance that sets the standards for the installation and management of rest facilities, it is not making plans to actively consider the labor conditions of these mobile workers. If there is a base space, the base must be established in consideration of the space where workers are guaranteed the right to rest. When providing a rest area in the region with the support of the local government, the duty of contribution on the part of the user should be stipulated and the number should be sufficiently increased. Considering the nature of the industry, where it is difficult to use the space already provided, it should be considered to support the cost so that workers can rest in places such as cafes that are easily accessible by themselves.
As emphasized earlier, mobile workers must perform long, high-intensity compression work, even outdoors. We are in a situation where the right to rest must be properly guaranteed more than anyone else, but the current level of discussion about creating laws and systems is dismissed as ‘there is no choice for mobile workers’.
In a reality where industrial change and employment patterns are rapidly accelerating, and violations of labor rights are becoming more sophisticated, the government must not evade responsibility even for workers’ basic rights, such as the right to rest. Legal and institutional imagination for mobile workers’ right to rest is needed more than ever.