If you ever wondered how much the Korean employees you seeing working on US bases make well here is your answer:
A South Korean worker identified by his surname Kang, 57, who works for the US Armed Forces in Korea, was originally assigned chauffeur duties. In reality, he does whatever is asked of him. One day he is put to work cleaning out storage facilities, and the next, he is lugging bags around. Some days he fills sacks with sand for the entire day. “I’ve been working like a slave,” Kang said.Twenty years ago, he was hired as a waiter in a restaurant on the Army Base. But then, 10 years ago, the army unilaterally reassigned him as a chauffeur, and told him he could take it or leave it. Last August, he got another unilateral notification that his hours would be reduced to 20 hours a week from the original 40.
Accordingly, he would lose half of his earnings.“What else can I do? I’m too old to find another job. They [USFK] always say that we are making a living thanks to them so we have to listen,” Kang said angrily.Since 1945, when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonization, US Forces have been stationed on the Korean Peninsula and some Koreans have worked at the US Army Bases. Since then, Korean workers have done odd jobs, including laundry, distribution of food, and facilities repair. Their number currently stands at over 13,000, employed for 240 types of labor.Under Article 17 of the US-ROK Status of Forces Agreement, the Korean workers are protected by Korean labor law, but in reality, they are struggling under the US Army’s one-way labor management. A worker identified by his last name Yu, 54, was hired as a waiter at a restaurant on the Yongsan base 25 years ago, but ended up more like an errand boy. “I did everything that they asked me to do to make a living without an academic background,” said Yu. Even though he has been working there for more than 20 years, his salary tops out at less than 2 million won (US$1,837).It varies depending on duties, the average annual salary of Korean workers of the US Army is around 32 million won (US$29,400). “The problem is that salary has not kept up with the inflation rate,” maintains a member of the US Forces in Korea Employees Union. [Hankyoreh]
Considering the average pay these workers make they are definitely not making a lot of money. It would be interesting to compare their average pay to civilian base workers back in the US. Considering the cost sharing agreement with the ROK government I suspect these employees are a great cost savings for US forces compared to employee costs back in the US. With that all said, US government employees have faced pay freezes the past few years so I would think it would be difficult to justify giving pay raises to Korean employees when US government employees are not getting one.
Does anyone have any insight into this issue?