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Jobs are relative at Seoul Metro

Upgrades of positions may have been leaked to wives, kids, parents
Oct 17,2018
Many former contract workers at Seoul Metro recently upgraded to the permanent payroll may have had inside information about the transition from relatives already working at the company, the JoongAng Ilbo reported exclusively on Tuesday.

Seoul Metro, a public company run by the Seoul city government in charge of subway lines No. 1 through 8, upgraded 1,285 contract workers to the permanent payroll in March, according to Seoul Metro records submitted to the Liberty Korea Party Rep. You Min-bong, which the JoongAng Ilbo obtained.

Of those, 108 were found to have had relatives working for the company before they applied for the contract jobs. Some 31 were children of Seoul Metro employees, 22 were siblings, 12 were spouses, 12 were cousins, six were parents and the rest more distant relatives.

What’s suspicious is that 65 of the 108 were hired within the last three years - many after May 2016, when a subcontracted worker’s death in Guui Station in eastern Seoul shed light on difficult working conditions of subcontracted workers used by the city government.

“At the time, there were members of the labor union at Seoul Metro that encouraged people to tell their relatives that if they get contract jobs, they will be upgraded into full-time positions soon,” a Seoul Metro employee told the JoongAng Ilbo under the condition of anonymity. “There was a rumor at the time that there was even a list of relatives of employees to be taken on as contract workers.”

Seoul Metro’s labor union denied the allegation.

“It’s just a rumor,” said a member of the union who asked not to be named. “Given that Seoul Metro has some 15,000 employees, the fact that there are 108 employees with relatives at the company is perhaps not that big of a number.”

But if the allegation is true, at least 108 people at the company were able to get full-time, salaried positions with a simpler three-step process. Getting a salaried position usually requires five steps including written tests and personality evaluation.

“The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea ought to investigate the case to uncover any corruption involved,” said Rep. You.

A full-time employee of Seoul Metro is guaranteed a job until the retirement age of 60. The desirability of its jobs is evident in the number of applicants this year.

There were 555 openings for full-time positions at Seoul Metro this year and a total of 30,340 people applied.

Seoul Metro said the relatives were hired fairly. “They were hired through blind interviews, meaning we didn’t know the applicants’ names nor their educational backgrounds when we interviewed them,” a Seoul Metro employee told the JoongAng Ilbo.

BY LIM SUN-YOUNG, KIM MIN-WOOK [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]