11/01/2013

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KOREA (SOUTH): Hankook Tire hit for laying off employees

According to industry sources, the nation's biggest tire maker has conducted a retirement program which requires employees with low performance ratings to leave the company. The company claims the program is about providing financial compensation and consultation to help willing employees switch jobs or run their own businesses. Despite its supposed noble intentions, employees see the program as an unofficial and unlawful redundancy scheme. The company has yet to officially announce a voluntary redundancy program. The move, which Hankook Tire employees say has continued for years, has resulted in about 10 layoffs per year.Company representatives deny charges of wrongdoing, stressing that participation in the program is voluntary."We have conducted the program for those who fail to be promoted due to poor performance ratings,” an official from the firm said. "This is a support program for them and it's totally their call whether they want to take our offer or reject it and stay with the company. We haven't done anything against the labor law.”The tire maker has contacted employees individually because it thinks that public notification could be humiliating for those subject to the program, the official said.But workers claim the program is a case of unfair dismissal and therefore amounts to an illegal suppression of their rights."A company cannot fire its employees without justifiable reason such as difficulties in management,” one employee who was recently removed from his position as a manager said. "In the past 10 years, Hankook Tire has posted double-digit growth rates, and the program is obviously aimed at illegal layoffs.”Market analysts estimate that the company posted about 900 billion won in profit last year.Some employees dismissed through the program plan to file a complaint with the regional labor relations commission unless the firm discontinues what they say is an illegal practice.(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)
Source: Daily "The Korea Times", Seoul; 8 Jan 2013

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