First Seoul Women Union Members’ Assembly held on December 11

On Saturday November 11 a historic event took place. Roughly 300 women workers from the Seoul area gathered at Yeonsei University's Widang Auditorium for the first ever Seoul Women Union Members' Assembly. This event was organized by a coordinating committee composed of the women's committees of several unions and progressive political parties. PSSP is proud to have participated on this body and contributed to making the Women Union Members’ Assembly possible.

During the assembly, which lasted for several hours, participants shared their experience as women in the workplace with one another. The women were diverse in terms of occupation, including: public servants, educators, office workers, service workers, factory workers, care workers and cleaning workers. While the details of their jobs differ, however, the women found they have a common experience of oppression and discrimination as women living and working in a patriarchal society. The majority were irregular workers, suffering from low wages and lack of job security. Many shared experiences of being discriminated against, belittled and/or sexually harassed by colleagues or bosses who saw them simply as easy victims. Rather than remaining silent about these experiences, the women at the assembly chose to raise their voices to condemn the maltreatment and call for change.

The Assembly program also included speeches by women from unions currently on strike, including KEC Semi-conductors and Jaeneung Education. Performances by women union members, including singing by cleaning workers and a dance by care workers, were received enthusiastically by the audience as was a skit that illustrated the realities of women workers' lives.

By the end of the assembly participants had made a firm commitment to one another to work together to overcome discrimination and improve their work conditions. The also vowed to leave the periphery of their unions to become central actors in the workers movement and proclaimed the importance of a feminist perspective to union revitalization.

While the first Women Union Members' Assembly was held in Seoul many people have suggested that it be expanded to a national scale in the future. PSSP agrees with this proposal and hopes to work with other organizations and unions for its realization.

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