First Round of Cuts Underway at Musan Mine

Choi Song Min  |  2015-02-13 17:44
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Following the completion of mass rallies and lectures, designed to realize projects laid out in leader Kim Jong Euns New Years Address, the massive layoff of 10,000 mine workers at Musan Mine beginning earlier this year has gained significant traction.

Last December a Party secretary declared in a staff meeting that there would be layoffs, a measure being implemented currently, a source based in North Hamkyung Province told Daily NK on Thursday. Dozens of skilled workers and researchers were included in the first list announced. 

During the meeting, the secretary said the first to go in the massive restructuring would be disgruntled workers, those who take unauthorized leave, and the sick and elderly." The first group in particular seems hardest hit by the directive. The first batch of people comprises those, who for one reason or another, got on the wrong side of the secretary and manager or vocalized their disgruntlement with the poor salary and ration system," he said.

In September of 2013, North Korea promised consistent rations and salary bumps for the miners, hoping to increase overall production and boost iron ore trade volume with China. But when these pledges were went unfulfilled, discontent brewed among the workers. Now, the Party secretary and mine manager are carrying out personal vendettas, rather than being carried out according to restructuring principles, according to the source.

In light of the looming mass layoff, [mine officials] have transformed a cooperative farm area in Musan County into a potential site for a mine, he said. He explained that workers caught in the reconstructions wake will be reassigned to this area to work as farmers. 

This development has done little to assuage the nerves of anxious workers desperate to know what fate awaits them after the scale down. Reassignment to the farm site automatically relegates ones title from worker to farmer, an automatic demotion to a significantly lower social class. Because of this, more people have been looking for new jobs at trade companies and regular factories in the surrounding area, he explained. 

Many are troubled by what the massive cuts could portend, pointing out that if highly-skilled miners that have dedicated themselves to their work are being laid off like this, regular workers might as well have lives not even worth a fly. The source said these bouts of worry are frequently followed with condemnation as to why they are forced to worry in the first place: officials firing workers that are vocal about wrongdoings and the Party directives allowing it to occur.

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