The Seasonal Worker Program(SWP) is a foreign employment permit policy in South Korea that has been in full force since 2017, following a pilot project in 2015 (Gwesan and Boeun counties) and 2016 (Gwesan, Boeun, Yanggu, and Danyang countires).
The South Korea SWP is currently recruiting workers from Philippines, Nepal, Vietnam, Mongolia, Laos, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Thailand. The program involves recruitment of migrant agricultural workers to work in South Korea for 5 to 8 months. The recruitment of workers is facilitated through local governments of countries of origin and destination.
The Joint Committee with Migrants Korea (JCMK), a member of Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA) conducted a research on the issues and challenges in the implementation of the SWP both in countries of origin and in South Korea. Field visits were organized through the support of MFA to the Philippines, Nepal, and Vietnam to interview workers and other key stakeholders. Workers were also interviewed in South Korea.
The research conducted by JMCK revealed numerous issues in the implementation of the SWP. Among the issues documented by research include: high recruitment fees, workers deployed without contracts, exploitative working conditions, and non payment of wages among others. There is also lack of policy coherence between countries of origin and destination as local governments sign MOUs that contract national policies on labour migration.
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