Part-time lecturers in Busan went on strike Tuesday, protesting their dismissals less than a month after a revision bill aimed at improving their treatment passed the National Assembly.
In a press conference held in front of the university building, members of the Pusan National University branch of the Korean Irregular Professors’ Union denounced the university’s decision to dismiss part-time lecturers and announced a walkout.
“The law amendment made (last month) to improve the poor treatment of the part-time lecturers is strangling the life out of us,” the regional union claimed in a statement.
“The university is taking away the livelihood of the temporary teachers by dismissing the part-time lecturers and reducing the number of lectures.”
The union’s strike is the first since the National Assembly passed the revision of Higher Education Act on Nov. 29. After years of dispute, the parliament passed the amendment bill aimed at ensuring greater job security for the part-time lecturers, mandating universities to hire part-time lecturers for at least a year, pay them during school vacation periods and provide severance pay.
However, universities complain of budgetary pressures and some appear to be moving to lay off part-time lecturers.
The Pusan National University branch union members said the university did not withdraw its dismissal plans after eight rounds of negotiations and three labor mediation council meetings.
The part-time lecturers said they will conduct a sit-in protest until the university accepts their demands.
The policy director of the union, Lee Sang-ryong, also demanded the university launch a consultative body to discuss school’s regulations on part-time lecturers.
Branch members in universities, including Yeungnam University, Chonnam National University and Kyungpook National University, may follow suit if negotiation attempts with the respective schools fail.
Pusan National University refused to comment on the alleged plan to dismiss part-time lecturers, but said a reorganization of the school curriculum is needed for the students.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com)