Migrant workers call for improvement of conditions for parcel sorting jobs before using foreign manpower

March 24, 2021

A migrant workers’ union on Wednesday called for the government to improve working conditions for parcel sorting jobs before allowing the hiring of foreign workers in the business.

The government recently took measures to allow foreigners to land jobs of sorting and loading parcels amid concerns over manpower shortages and poor working conditions.

“Parcel loading and unloading is regarded as having the heaviest workload among logistic works,” the Migrants’ Trade Union (MTU) said in a statement.

Allowing migrant workers to take up such positions with the current working environment unchanged is tantamount to “outsourcing of hazards,” it added.

This Jan. 31, 2021, photo shows workers sorting parcels at a logistics center in southeastern Seoul. (Yonhap)
This March 16, 2021, photo shows an advocacy group representing parcel delivery workers calling for measures to prevent deaths of couriers from apparent overwork in front of a logistic firm headquarters in central Seoul. (Yonhap)

This Jan. 31, 2021, photo shows workers sorting parcels at a logistics center in southeastern Seoul. (Yonhap)

“(The government) should consider using foreign manpower after it first reduces the workload in the job and improves the working environment,” MTU Chairman Udaya Rai said.

Nine domestic labor organizations jointly issued a similar statement on Monday.

On March 16, the Ministry of Justice said it has preannounced a revision of an enforcement decree on the Immigration Control Act to allow the employment of foreign nationals with H-2 work and visit visas in parcel shipment jobs.

The move followed the industry’s request to permit the hiring of foreigners to address workforce shortages amid increased demand for deliveries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, 16 couriers died supposedly from excessive work, according to a couriers’ union.

Couriers worked 71 hours and 18 minutes on average per week but spent only 12 minutes and 12 seconds for meal breaks on average daily, according to a survey on 1,341 delivery workers conducted in November by a civic organization.