Competenceism and fairness confronts ideology

▲ Park Jeong-ho, Certified Labor Attorney

January is the time when the union evaluates the previous year’s business and establishes a business plan for the new year. School irregular workers fought against the fair ideology of meritocracy last year. At the delegates’ meeting early last year, the company set its business foundation and held two national strikes.

It was an awareness of the problem that if we kept a society consistent with indifference and criticism by confining the desperate struggle to get out of the status of non-regular workers in a fair frame, we would have no choice but to pass on a society of status to non-regular workers to our children. It tried to break the crooked process frame of meritocracy and all-around testing.

A policy research project is currently underway to respond to the crooked fair discourse. Administrative practitioners and former Yook Sung-hoe occupations filed civil lawsuits to correct discrimination based on employment type, but the court said that there were reasonable grounds for discriminatory treatment because public officials and non-regular school workers had different employment paths, responsibilities and authority. It was subsequently defeated by the Supreme Court. It was judged that it would be difficult to resolve the discrimination based on the legal dispute based on the current law. This is why the Fairness Research Project for School Non-regular Workers was proposed. It is gathering theoretical criticisms on measures to improve laws and systems for resolving discrimination against non-regular school workers and the meritocracy fair frame. They submitted cases of unfairness that union members felt at school through handwriting and city application, and held two ‘fair discourse union members meeting’ with experts. We plan to hold a discussion forum soon after collecting the research results.

The word ‘fairness’ comes up every day even from the mouths of the presidential candidates from both parties. It seems that they are focused on winning the votes of the middle class in their 20s and 30s. However, the ‘fairness’ they are talking about does not capture the hearts of our non-regular workers. On the contrary, it appears that the influential presidential candidates are taking the lead in spreading the meritocracy and fair ideology. One candidate openly advocates meritocracy, while the other has bold and sympathetic to Professor Michael Sandal, but still emphasizes only the rules of fair competition. They suggest that we cover the issue of non-regular workers with fair pay, and reduce the property ownership tax while talking about asset inequality. It looks different, but if you look closely, it’s a dogged dog. Even if they shout that the problem is not injustice, but inequality, it does not reach them.

A book that drew attention last year in which foreign scholars warned of the danger of ‘the illusion of fairness’ and sharply criticized ‘Korean meritocracy’. However, Korea’s meritocracy and fairness ideology is solid. After receiving 12 years of institutional education, they are accustomed to line up according to test results, and even when they come out in society, a different starting line awaits them: academic background and family. He hangs himself on the test of being the most fair, but the squid game and self-abduction dominate everyday life.

If you don’t qualify for the exam, or if you don’t pass it, you’re incompetent. Moreover, it is not uncommon for them to be the target of discrimination and hatred. Such was the process of conversion to regular employees at Incheon International Airport and the struggle process of workers at the National Health Insurance Counseling Center. More than 110,000 people have petitioned the Blue House to enact legislation to stipulate ‘educational civil servants’ in the law. Union members do not see comments on news of strikes and struggles for non-regular school workers. It is said that they only get hurt because they say, ‘I don’t even take the exam and come in and write it all down’.

There is an area where cooks in educational civil service become civil servant cooks after passing a career recruitment test. After solving the four-choice multiple-choice problem in social and sanitation-related laws and regulations in 40 minutes, some become civil servants and others remain as irregular workers. And the identity changes. The monthly wage increases by 1 million to 2 million won, and the annual wage increases even more as non-working people during vacations become full-time workers. Similar experience in the private sector and military experience are also recognized, and a pension is received after retirement. There is also an excuse to skip cleaning and washing dishes. Is it fair to change my status like this just because I got one more multiple-choice question in the social studies subject while I was doing the same thing?

There are also novice cooks who graduate from specialized high schools or Meister high schools related to culinary arts and enter jobs through career competition. They say they would like to see more jobs such as schools with stable employment. Since the number of people drinking water per cook is high, the labor intensity is high, and the risk of industrial accidents is high, so I hope that the garden will be increased. It is hoped that the quota and personnel service regulations will be reasonably arranged through the enactment of the education civil service law.

The discourse on fairness in our society is biased towards one side. The voices of the top 10% who succeeded to their parents’ low-income families for free and the full-time youths who graduated from college and settled in stable jobs are exaggerated. Young people who cannot or do not plan to become teachers or civil servants want more and better jobs such as education civil servants.

Is it sustainable in a society in which the winner, determined through the test, dominates everything?

Meritorism does not answer the question of how much inequality is fair inequality. The test of meritocracy cannot properly evaluate the value of essential labor, such as care, meals, cleaning, and medical care, which has been attracting attention since COVID-19.

Will you give up after seeing the most unfavorable presidential election ever?

I gain strength again from the presentation of the fair discourse meeting.

“Most of the notions of meritocracy entered through the socialization process, including institutional education, are made in the ‘school’ through ‘exams’. It is ironic that meritocracy, which blocks the struggle of the school non-regular worker union, is routinely practiced at that ‘school’. That is why the voice of the school non-regular worker union is even more important and meaningful.”

Essential workers, non-regular workers in the public sector, and platform workers rework their business plan to prepare for a big fight against real unfair inequality. The transition period is not made by words, but by the struggle of workers.

“Classes can be done online, but meals and care cannot be done online.”

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