South Korean e-commerce giant Coupang said Friday that it has strived to lower the work intensity of staff at its fulfillment centers through large-scale recruitment and investment in automation technology, amid criticism that its harsh work environment led to death of employees.
According to Coupang’s estimate, Coupang fulfillment centers has hired 28,451 workers as of end-2020, adding 12,484 workers to its workforce through 2020. Moreover, the firm has invested some 500 billion won ($454 million) to introduce an automatic packaging system and sorting equipment, as well as to expand conveyor belts and optimize work routes using artificial intelligence.
Coupang also stressed its benefits to fulfillment center employees by abiding by Korean rules. All of them are covered by four social insurances and are guaranteed a maximum 52-hour workweek, weekly leave allowance, severance pay, free shuttle buses and meals. The company added it was aiming to hire all fulfillment center employees on a permanent basis.
This comes as a local labor union blamed Coupang for the death of a fulfillment center employee in the Greater Seoul area on Jan. 11. The labor union argued that Coupang employees are working in a pressured environment, as the company calculated an hourly production rate for each staff.
Coupang denied the claim, saying that it does not take the production rate into account to convert a short-term employee into a regular employee. The company added it would take a firm stance against false allegations and slander.
By Son Ji-hyoung (firstname.lastname@example.org)