Posted : 2018-01-11 18:09
Updated : 2018-01-11 19:22

Paris Baguette settles labor dispute

Representatives of labor and management of Paris Baguette and politicians hold hands at the CCMM building in Seoul after reaching an agreement on the employment of bakers, Thursday. From left are Lee Jae-kwang, head of Paris Baguette franchisees' organization; Lee Jeong-mi, chairwoman of the Justice Party; Shin Hwan-sub, president of the Korean Chemical & Textile Workers' Federation; Kwon In-tae, Paris Croissant CEO; Moon Hyun-goon, leader of the Federation of Korea Trade Unions' public sector workers in the central area; Woo Won-shik, floor leader of the Democratic Party of Korea; and Lee Nam-shin, a civic group leader. / Courtesy of SPC Group

By Park Jae-hyuk

Paris Baguette's franchise headquarters and the nation's two umbrella unions have finally ended their dispute over the employment of bakers.

SPC Group, the parent company of the nation's top bakery chain, said Thursday the union accepted the company's suggestion that the franchiser's subsidiary will hire 5,300 subcontracted bakers, who have been dispatched to Paris Baguette bakeries nationwide.

The agreement is expected to allow SPC to avoid a 16.2 billion won fine, which the Ministry of Employment and Labor imposed on the company last month. The ministry said it would not levy the penalty, unless the bakers want direct employment.

Also, some bakers decided to withdraw lawsuits demanding the franchiser confirm their status as employees.

"The bakers regarded job stability as their top priority, so they decided to accept our suggestion," a Paris Baguette official said.

The controversy first arose in September last year, after the labor ministry ordered the franchiser to directly hire bakers working at Paris Baguette bakeries. Since then, experts in industry, labor and law have debated the practical employment of the bakers.

As the dispute heated up, the nation's two umbrella unions and the franchise headquarters began discussing the matter in depth. The ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK), the minor opposition Justice Party and civic groups mediated so the dispute could be finally settled.

According to SPC, the franchiser will hold more than a 51 percent stake in a new subsidiary. Also, an executive from franchise headquarters will serve as the representative director of the subsidiary. The existing subcontractors will be excluded from holding the subsidiary's shares and being board members.

In addition, bakers will receive 16.4 percent higher salaries on average and will enjoy the same welfare as the employees at headquarters. They will be granted more days-off as well, so the company will hire 500 additional workers.

"As chief of the franchise headquarters, I feel responsible for causing anxiety to the bakers, franchisees and subcontractors," said Kwon In-tae, the CEO of Paris Croissant operating Paris Baguette. "As we reached a socially meaningful agreement amid difficulties, we will try our best to create more decent jobs."

On the day of the agreement, officials from the franchise headquarters, an organization of franchises, the two umbrella unions, the DPK and the minor opposition Justice Party signed an agreement at the CCMM building in Seoul.

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