It is estimated that the amount of unpaid wages last year would reach a record high of 1.4 trillion won(US$1.17 billion). That is the reason why the free legal aid service should be strengthened to mitigate the sufferings of the wage workers. Workers in the shipbuilding industry which underwent extensive corporate restructuring last year would be the hardest hit.
According to the report on "the situation and prospect of free legal aid service for the victims of unpaid wages" released by the National Assembly Research Service(NARS), it unveiled that the amount of unpaid wages keeps on increasing due to the prolonged economic downturn. The NARS urged that the free legal aid service should be further strengthened to provide the victims of unpaid wages with practical relief.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor since 2005 has been implementing free legal aid service for the victims of unpaid wages through the Korea Legal Aid Corporation(KLAC) with the financial resources of the wage claim guarantee fund.
For the last 10 years until 2015, the KLAC dealt with 588,333 cases of unpaid wages and provided free legal aid to 1.25 million unpaid workers. The total overdue wages amounting to 7.969 trillion won(US$6.442 billion) has been recovered to the workers in such difficult situations. The KLAC handled 7,023 cases in 2005, but the cases in 2015 shot up 10 times to 73,244.
It is evaluated that the current legal aid system is fairly well established to provide the unpaid workers with relief measures, but it is not staffed with adequate number of attorneys and stable manpower with expertise who can expedite the cases. According to the report, there operate 132 KLAC local offices across the country, but only 48 offices have attorneys in service.
reported by Kim Bong-seok
translated by Kim Sung-jin
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