|A delivery driver loads packages at a distribution center in Seoul, Nov. 10, 2020. / Korea Times file|
By Kim Jae-heun
Lotte Group is embroiled in a controversy for requesting a temporary transfer of employees from its subsidiaries to its logistics firm, where it is falling short of workers ahead of the Lunar New Year next month.
Lotte said it is a countermeasure to resolve the imbalance in job supply and demand between its subsidiaries caused by COVID-19. However, workers are suspicious of the intentions behind this plan, as the notice came just before the national holiday and they are being sent to Lotte Global Logistics.
On Wednesday, Lotte Group notified its subsidiaries including Lotte Shopping, Lotte Rental, Lotte Chemical and Lotte World Mall that it is looking for applications from 100 people willing to work at Lotte Global Logistics for a while.
The group came up with this idea to utilize the workforce that has been forced into taking unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lotte said the applicants will be dispatched to workplaces nationwide and they will be riding along with vehicle delivery drivers.
The company explained that their main job would be to deliver the package while the drivers parked the vehicle. It added that transferred workers can also help classify the refund parcels at distribution centers. The period of secondment is from one to three months and workers will be paid their original salary with no additional allowances.
Anxiety is growing between workers at Lotte Group's subsidiaries. Some believe the group is restructuring its subsidiaries. Others also fear that if there are no applicants the group will be able to order any workers on leave to work at the logistics firm.
Lotte Group firmly denied the allegations and said the countermeasure is not to cope with the delivery chaos that is expected prior to the Lunar New Year.
"We are only recruiting 100, which is too small to be an actual help for the delivery service. This is for only those who wish to apply and we will not force anybody to do it," a Lotte Group official said.
According to the Fair Trade Act, it is illegal to transfer workers between subsidiaries. However, the Korea Fair Trade Commission announced that it would be permissible only if it is aimed to stabilize employment in the time of COVID-19. Lotte Group has to make clear the period the workers will be dispatched and sign a contract that the workers are voluntarily participating in the system.
Meanwhile, Lotte Global Logistics promised to add 1,000 more workers to its distribution centers starting Feb. 1 as part of its effort to ease the workload of delivery workers. Six hundred will be dispatched to its sites by next Monday.
"We are covering all the extra expenses caused by hiring support personnel," a Lotte Global Logistics official said.