Immigrant workers suffer overdue, unpaid salaries
Previously, people lined up in front of a famed Indian restaurant in Bundang, Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province. The restaurant was introduced by TV networks several times for the excellent cooking by veteran Indian chefs.
The restaurant’s owner fled after failing to repay debts. But there still remain four chefs. Since the closure, six months have passed.
Of the chefs, Said Khan, 34, was the longest-working chef at the restaurant. Khan, who has his mother, two sisters, wife and three children in his home country, made up his mind to come to Korea in early 2008.
He had 15 years of experience – he began work at a hotel restaurant in Bangalore, India, at the age of 15. But he had to work without any pay at the restaurant during the first six months in Korea. He said the employer told him that it was a “training period.”
During the next nine months, he received a salary amounting to only 500,000 won per month.
Working hours for him were long. He had to work from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the restaurant, and then move to a nearby bar, also run by the CEO, to work until 3 a.m. next morning.
He was deprived by the employer of his foreigner registration certificate and passport. He had had few days off during the past three years.
His overdue, unpaid salaries and severance money, which were calculated on the basis of minimum wage, totaled 62.5 million won.
Two other chefs and the remaining one worked at the restaurant without pay for two years and one year, respectively. Their unpaid salaries and severance money ranged from 13.8 million won to 37.6 million won.
The immigrant workers filed with the authorities complaints over the overdue, unpaid salaries. But there has been little progress. The employer has failed to participate in work to finalize the amount of unpaid salaries. Another obstacle facing them is that the restaurant has yet to be declared bankrupt by the authorities.
A labor official said the restaurant’s president has yet to file with the authorities applications for its shutdown. “As a result, there remains the possibility of the employer resuming operation. So, we should make a decision on the bankruptcy in a prudent manner,” the official said on condition of anonymity.