Cadres attempting to collect additional fees despite nominal salaries

Kang Mi Jin  |  2017-10-24 12:16
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The North Korean government is looking for more creative ways to extract money from its citizens. Although the government has not provided a minimum wage to workers in official jobs for many years, they have continued to demand workers pay Party dues (for Party members) and Workers' Alliance fees. In the wake of lost revenue due to international sanctions, the authorities have been looking for new avenues to extract money. 
Party organs have been doubling their efforts to devise new strategies to collect money from workers. Previously, the party demanded Workers' Alliance fees only once a year at the end of October, but they are now seemingly focused on it all the time, a source in North Pyongan Province told Daily NK on October 16.
The source went on to describe how Party members talk about the so-called salary, saying that, "A monthly salary of anywhere between 1,800 to 5,000 KPW cannot even buy a single kilogram of rice. They are complaining about having to pay 'fees without a salary.
Although the government finally enacted a new economic policy on July 7, 2001, to counter workers salary issues that arose after the devastating famine of the mid-90s, the truth is that people continue to receive only a token salary to this day. 

Official salaries for provincial workers in North Pyongan Province are so low that they are considered little more than pocket change. The source reported that provincial factory workers receive just 1,800 KPW per month. Railway workers receive 2,300 to 4,000 KPW depending on their position, those working in the arts receive 2,500 PKW, and light industry jobs garner 2,800-3,000 KPW. Those working with toxic substances earn the most at about 5,000 KPW per month. To put these amounts in perspective, however, 1 kg of rice is currently selling for about 6,000 KPW in the markets.
Many people do not even know their own set salary. Many do not receive a payslip  anymore, but even if they do, they dont think about the salary much anyway considering how minuscule it is [as they rely on the markets for their livelihoods], he explained.
This has also meant that many people have been unaware how much their affiliated organizational fees are supposed to be.
A source in Ryanggang Province added, "Recently the local Party Chairman began demanding that Party members pay up their delinquent Party dues, but since nobody even knew how much they were, the Chairman had to go around informing each individual how much they owe."
While the government attempts to extract more money from its working citizens, the people continue to make their living mostly in the markets, often too busy to pay much attention to the new scheme to extract Party fees. 
There are concerns that with the international community continuing to tighten sanctions, the issue of the authorities exploiting the citizens will only get worse. With the strong possibility that sanctions will be strengthened even further, we need to increase awareness and find a way to address the core problem," the Ryanggang-based source concluded.

*Translated by Colin Zwirko

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