Society

 

On December 11, 2018, Kim Yong gyun was working at the Taean thermal power plant when he died unfortunately while checking a conveyor belt. When the details of this incident became known, people were not only sad but also outraged by the irresponsible behavior of the power plant. The labor union pointed out the dangerous work environment and asked the company to have workers work in pairs, but the power plant did not implement it because of manpower problems caused by restructuring. The power plant even called the maintenance company before reporting the incident to the police. Even though the person died, they were looking for the maintenance company to find someone to quickly turn the conveyor belt back on.

After these facts were reported, a pan-national candlelight memorial ceremony was held in front of Cheongwadae on December 22 to demand the truth about the accident. The memorial ceremony began with silence, and then the workers in each field spoke their demands with the theme, “I am Kim Yong gyun.” They said, “Why should death be a part of working as a subcontractor?” and “Stop the risks of outsourcing.” They also demanded to meet with President Moon Jae in and asked the government to take measures to prevent the recurrence of accidents. In addition, youth groups and labor organizations attended the ceremony and joined the workers in demanding change.

With the sacrifice of Kim Yong gyun, the Industrial Safety and Health Act was revised and is now known as the ‘Kim Yong gyun’ Act. The revision prohibits subcontracting in the companies that use plating, mercury, lead, or cadmium, which have high risk factors for occupational diseases. It strengthened the criminal punishment for employers violating the safety and health measures. However, this revised act is insufficient to address the requirements of workers. Only subcontractors in companies that use plating, mercury, lead, or cadmium are prohibited, while operational subcontractors at places such as power plants where Kim Yong gyun worked can still be used. It is also still the responsibility of the subcontractor to determine the manpower and methods to operate facilities safely. It is pointed out that this act does not reflect reality properly.

Despite the improvements, there are still problems. A manager of a subcontracting company said, "I am worried that subcontracting jobs will be lost because of this act." Additionally, the government should take measures to prevent such accidents in the future. Also, the sacrifice of innocent workers should no longer be repeated.