Korea’s Coupang hands cash to bereaved families at workers’ funerals

When Park Mi-sook held a funeral event for her late kid Jang Duk-joon in Daegu, South Korea, last October, supervisors from his previous company Coupang provided her an envelope having Won3m ($2,600) in money.

According to transcribed funeral windows registries, the ecommerce firm, which listed in New York last month with an assessment of $80bn, likewise handed money to the family members of a minimum of 2 various other just recently deceased employees.

The repayments have actually done little to mitigate the family members’ sorrow over the fatalities, which they credit to overwork. The bereaved family members of the 3 individuals, that formerly operated at logistics centres had by Coupang, are taking into consideration taking legal action against the firm as well as its subcontractors. 

“We are seeking an apology, preventive measures and compensation for my son’s death but have been unable to have talks with the company in earnest,” stated Park. “We are considering a lawsuit in the US.”

Her kid Jang, 27, was located dead in his bath tub in October after completing his graveyard shift at Coupang’s stockroom in Daegu.

Coupang at first rejected duty for Jang’s fatality however a main examination by the Korea Workers’ Compensation as well as Welfare Service (KCOMWEL) located that he passed away of a cardiac arrest due to overwork. 

“We were devastated by his sudden death but there was no word of apology from them, let alone admitting that my son’s death was due to overwork,” Park informed the Financial Times. 

Labour legal representatives as well as union authorities affirm that 8 Coupang employees, consisting of 2 subcontractors, have actually passed away from overwork over the previous year. 

The ecommerce firm, which is backed by financiers such as SoftBank, Sequoia as well as BlackRock, emphatically refutes duty for the fatalities, stating just one has actually formally been recognized as occupational. But it is dealing with enhancing political stress over the occurrences.

The family members of Park Hyun-kyung, 37, that passed away in June after functioning as a subcontractor at a lunchroom in Coupang’s center in Cheonan, has actually submitted a criminal problem with the work ministry versus the ecommerce team as well as 2 various other service providers for supposedly breaking the nation’s commercial security legislation.

Her other half, Choi Dong-beom, stated the business had actually declined his ask for conferences. Choi has actually sued with KCOMWEL for settlement. The state-run Occupational Safety as well as Health Research Institute is checking into the source of the fatality, according to KCOMWEL. 

South Korean business pay insurance policy costs to KCOMWEL, which after that makes up employees if their injuries are acknowledged as occupational.

“She had suffered from constant headaches and coughing for months before her death,” stated Choi. “But the companies have shown no interest in her death, passing the buck to each other.”

Coupang has actually responded to that an authorities examination identified the firm was exempt for Park Hyun-kyung’s fatality. It stated she helped Dongwon Homefood, a food solutions corporation that gave items as well as solutions to 7,000 business nationwide, consisting of Coupang. 

Park Mi-sook, the mom of the departed employee Jang, charged Coupang of not being co-operative in offering occupational info required to submit settlement cases. “I felt humiliated in the process of seeking information from the company,” she stated.

According to information offered by ruling event legislator Im Jong-sung, employees at Coupang Fulfillment Services, Coupang’s logistics arm, submitted 239 cases of job injuries to KCOMWEL for settlement in 2014. 

Im stated Coupang rejected 28.5 percent of cases as occupational, a price 3 times more than the standard for Korean business. However, KCOMWEL has actually stated just 15 of these situations were not occupational.

“If the employer doesn’t admit to work injuries, claimants have to experience a lot of difficulties and pain to prove their injuries are work-related,” stated Im.

When asked by the FEET regarding the Won3m in money repayments at the funeral services as well as possible settlement cases, Coupang stated it provided assistance for bereaved family members of workers no matter the reason of fatality, “including group accident insurance, financial support for the funeral, and condolence money”.

“Any death is a tragedy, regardless of the reason,” Coupang stated. “As is customary in Korea, it is our practice to visit the funeral of former workers, give condolences and provide support for families.” 

The firm stated that of the 8 fatalities, 2 were not Coupang workers however on-site service providers as well as these were not accident-related.

Of the various other 6 fatalities, Coupang stated, 3 took place in your home or throughout getaway as well as 3 at the office. The 3 on-site fatalities were heart attack-related as well as none resulted from crashes. All of the employees concerned functioned under 52 hrs a week, it stated.

“The union is trying to portray as work-related all heart and coronary-related incidents including those that occur at home or on vacation,” the firm stated. “Cardiac and cerebrovascular disorders are the second and fourth leading causes of death in Korea, and Coupang’s rate of both disorders are lower than the national average in Korea.”

Coupang is not legitimately required to make up the family members of departed employees unless it sheds legal actions submitted by the bereaved, according to South Korean work legislations.

Labour scientist Jang Kwi-yeon stated the deal of money at funeral services did not imply the firm was confessing lawful responsibility. But she included: “It should be seen as an expression of their moral responsibility.”