SEOUL, March 15 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s shipbuilding industry, which clinched a string of new orders early this year, is suffering from a shortage of manpower due to poor working conditions.
Centered on the port cities of Busan and Ulsan where the shipyards are clustered, this year’s shortage of workers is estimated at up to 8,000 in the production area alone, industry sources said.
The primary reason why the shipbuilding industry is facing a shortage of workers is the so-called ‘restructuring trauma.’
In the past market slump, the industry carried out massive restructuring, halving the number of workers to 92,809 in November last year from 202,689 in 2015.
Shipbuilding workers are divided into two groups. One group is those who are employed by shipyards, and the other group is those who are hired by subcontractors.
Subcontractor employees account for a lion’s share of the industry’s total workforce, but their wage level nears the minimum wage. Despite high labor intensity, the low wages limit interest from potential jobseekers.
The monthly wage gap between shipyard workers and onshore plant workers is estimated at up to 2 million won (US$1,610), according to industry officials.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)