Parties deliberating over bill on contract workers’ safety

SEOUL, Rival parties on Wednesday continued their deliberation over a revised bill aimed at better ensuring contract workers' on-the-job safety following the recent death of a young temporary worker at a thermal power plant.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) and two opposition parties discussed details about the bill, which calls for contractors to take measures to better ensure the safety of contract workers, and mandates stiffer punishments in the event of accidents. But they have yet to reach an agreement on two key contentious points of the proposal.

The move came after Kim Yong-gyun, a 24-year-old subcontract worker, was killed in a conveyor belt accident earlier this month at a thermal power plant in Taean, about 150 kilometers south of Seoul.

His death has sparked public uproar and calls for measures to better ensure contract workers' safety and fair treatment.

The parties agreed last week to make efforts to pass the bill during the ongoing extraordinary parliamentary session.

The rival parties agreed in principle to revise the bill in a way that will limit the outsourcing of work entailing high risk and guarantee employees' right to suspend work in the event of imminent risks of industrial accidents.

But they still sparred over how to let contractors take more responsibility for the prevention of industrial accidents and how to strengthen punishment in case a contract worker is killed on the job.

The DP wants the passage of the government-sponsored bill that calls for strengthening punishment for contractors who neglect the imposition of security and safety measures for contract workers.

The labor ministry earlier submitted a bill that would force contractors to face up to 10 years in prison or up to 100 million won (US$88,873) in fines in the case of a contract worker's death.

But the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and the minor Bareunmirae Party claimed that the level of punishment under the government-sponsored bill is excessive, saying that it would be better to raise the amount of fine.

If a parliamentary committee approves the bill, it will be sent to the legislation committee for approval, a process required to enable it to be put on vote at a plenary session slated for Thursday.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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