SEOUL, Nov. 30 (Korea Bizwire) – Korea Post is toying with the idea of replacing motorcycles with one-person electric cars as part of efforts to tackle the prevalent issue of ‘overwork death’ among postal workers.
According to Kang Seong-joo, the newly-elected director of the headquarters of Korea Post on Thursday, the introduction of single-seater electric cars is being considered, in a move to raise productivity and take a burden off the shoulders of workers.
In addition, Kang proposed hiring part-time workers to assist postal workers.
During a press conference held at a restaurant near Gwanghwamun, Kang addressed the growing social issues surrounding the poor treatment and working conditions of postal workers.
“(As stated before), if all 1,000 contract workers become full-time employees, it could bring about job security. However, to get to the root of the problem, we must cut working hours,” Kang emphasized.
Kang is reportedly considering introducing part-time workers to help postal workers with sorting mail, particularly newspapers and promotional leaflets from department stores, a process that can take up to two hours.
Under the new measure, postal workers are expected to work one hour less on average from early next year.
Some technological changes are on the way too, including machines that sort mail by categories, as well as the aforementioned one-seater electric cars for delivery services to replace motorcycles.
The motorcycles that are currently in use can carry up to 35 kilograms of mail, but the newly proposed electric cars have a capacity between 100 and 150 kilograms, raising productivity and reducing physical stress for postal workers while on the job.
While the introduction of the electric cars is expected to take effect sometime next year, Kang hinted at other long-term solutions to address the issue of overwork death, such as the use of drones, despite budgetary concerns.
The harsh working conditions many mail carriers are subjected to in South Korea have emerged as one of the most pressing social issues in recent years, after being blamed for the deaths of a number of postal workers.
According to the Korean Postal Worker’s Union (KPMWU), a total of eleven postal workers died this year, five of whom lost their lives to cardiac infarction, cerebrovascular disease and cerebral hemorrhage, with some leaving a will in which they expressed frustration towards the work overload they faced.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)