The Korea Herald


Coupang couriers launch labor union, claiming decline in working conditions

By Lee Yoon-seo

Published : April 24, 2023 - 17:52

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A Coupang delivery worker unloads delivered goods from a truck. (Herald DB) A Coupang delivery worker unloads delivered goods from a truck. (Herald DB)

Delivery workers of e-commerce giant Coupang's subcontractors have set up a labor union, calling for better working conditions amid the company’s rapid growth in recent years.

According to the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, one of the major umbrella confederations of unions here, the new labor union held a launching ceremony at the company’s logistics center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, on Monday.

This labor union primarily includes delivery workers at subcontracted companies of Coupang Logistics Services, a Coupang subsidiary providing delivery services. Other existing unions of Coupang workers cover logistics workers at fulfillment centers, delivery truck drivers and Coupang Eats delivery drivers on motorbikes.

“The rights of delivery workers at Coupang are being violated due to the company’s unilateral working standards and layoffs,” Won Young-bu, vice president of the umbrella union, told The Korea Herald.

Despite the surging demand for delivery orders, Won claimed, the deadline for delivery workers’ return to the logistics centers has not yet been extended and workers who cannot meet the deadline are getting fired.

“Just recently, five of Coupang delivery workers were laid off because they could not finish delivering their goods on time,” he added.

The new union also plans to fight against Coupang’s “illegal” employment process, under which the company refuses to guarantee employment for six years and possible extension of the employment contract – a basic right guaranteed under the Consumer Logistics Service Industry Development Act set by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

“Coupang delivery workers are also forced to do extra work other than their main delivery jobs, such as classifying parcels,” Won said.

The company, however, refuted the union’s claims, saying, “The KCTU is disseminating fake news.”

According to the company, it operates separate teams solely dedicated to sorting out parcels, while it signs employment contracts with delivery workers via private agents.

“The rally of the delivery worker union (held by Coupang delivery workers on Monday), with the help of forces from outside the company, is threatening the livelihood of other delivery workers who are working faithfully,” said an official from Coupang Logistics Services.

“CLS will respond strongly, including all legal measures, if the delivery worker union continues to engage in illegal activities by holding customers as hostages,” he added.