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6,000 after-school care workers to join strike Friday

Representatives from a coalition of nonregular school workers announce in a press briefing Thursday that more than half of its 12,000 members working as after-school care attendants will join a one-day strike to be held Friday. (Yonhap)
Representatives from a coalition of nonregular school workers announce in a press briefing Thursday that more than half of its 12,000 members working as after-school care attendants will join a one-day strike to be held Friday. (Yonhap)
More than 6,000 after-school care attendants are expected to launch a strike Friday in protest against proposed changes to school child care management and their employment status, sparking fears of a major disruption in child care services.

A coalition of nonregular school workers said in a press briefing Thursday that more than half of its 12,000 members working as care workers at schools are expected to join the one-day strike.

The collective action is aimed at blocking a legislative revision that would make after-school care a community-level project planned and managed by local government authorities. At the moment, individual elementary schools hire workers to provide care to students in need of such service after school hours.

“After-school care attendants have been working on the front line of the care crisis amid the COVID-19 outbreak with just face masks and a spirt of responsibility,” the coalition said during a press briefing held at the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions building in Seoul.

“But overwork has been apparent, and our job security and working conditions have weakened from the proposal of a legislative revision that puts local government authorities in charge of after-school care programs.”

The group warned a bigger and more disruptive strike could follow, should the government and the National Assembly fail to heed their demands.

In Korea, around 200,000 elementary school students benefit from after-school programs, and 80 percent of them are 1st and 2nd grade students.

The Education Ministry and regional education offices were struggling to find alternative personnel to keep after-school programs running Friday, possibly looking to teachers. But teachers’ associations have outwardly rejected the notion of filling in.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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