NATIONAL

Security guards at risk of losing jobs after minimum wage hike

By Jo He-rim
  • Published : Nov 15, 2017 - 17:33
  • Updated : Nov 15, 2017 - 17:33
Over 10,000 private security guards at apartment blocks and buildings are at risk of losing their jobs due to a spike in the minimum wage next year, civic groups claimed Wednesday.

An association of civic groups and labor unions warned of the looming massive layoffs of custodians and guards at residential buildings, after conducting a survey on over 5,300 of them in Seoul. It called on the government to come up with measures to deal with the problem. 

Members of civic groups advocating the rights of security guards hold a press conference in front of the National Assembly in Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

“The security guards suffer from harsh working conditions and low wages. They also have to experience employment instability all the time,” they said at a press briefing in front of the National Assembly.

“There are no jobs for elders here. This massive layoff of security guards will become a serious social problem in this country, which ranks first in the poverty rate and suicide rate of elderly among Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members.”

Retired seniors and elderly often take jobs as security guards at apartments.

According to the citied survey, which was conducted on 5,310 security guards working in 338 apartment blocks in Seoul from Nov. 2 to 15, 5.9 percent responded that they were already notified of their termination or that they expect it, while 41 percent said their employers do not have plans to reduce staff. Another 46 percent said it was not yet decided if they would be laid off. The total number of security guards across the nation is 35,000, the civic union said.

In July, the government finalized the plan to raise the legal minimum wage by 16.4 percent to 7,530 won per hour from next year. The raise marked the biggest jump in nearly two decades. The wage hike was decided two months after President Moon Jae-in was inaugurated. He has pledged to increase the minimum wage to 10,000 won by 2020, as he seeks to stimulate the economy by boosting private consumption.

Workers also pointed out their harsh working conditions, as they are often burdened with more than they can handle.

“In apartment complexes that have already gone through layoffs, one security guard was given the duty of keeping watch over 13 to 14 buildings and also had to deal with recycling and pruning the branches off the trees,” the civic union said. “Some have to stay up at night in guard rooms because they are too small to fit a cot.”

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)