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6 Nov 2023

S. Korea: Ship-building cos. asked to respond to alleged rights violations, low wages & harsh working conditions behind reasons most migrants want to change jobs; cos. did not respond

In October 2023, The Korea Times reported on the results of a survey by the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU) of migrant shipyard workers in South Korea, working at the shipyards of HD Hyundai (HD Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard, Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries), and Hanwha Ocean.

The survey found six out of ten migrant workers in Korea’s shipbuilding sector would like to change jobs due to ‘low wages and tough labour conditions’. The survey also found 34.9% of workers complained about being paid less than their Korean colleagues; and 23.9% expressed occupational health and safety concerns. Some workers also allege they are being paid less than the amount specified in their original contracts.

Following the survey, KMWU urged major shipbuilders, including HD Hyundai, Hanwha Ocean and Samsung Heavy Industries, to improve the labour rights and living conditions of migrant shipbuilders.

In November 2023, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre invited HD Hyundai, Hanwha Ocean, and Samsung Heavy Industries to respond to The Korea Times article. The companies did not respond to the Resource Centre's request for comment.

Company Responses

HD Hyundai

No Response

Hanwha Ocean

No Response

Samsung Heavy Industries (part of Samsung)

No Response