- Unionists say management raised sales targets despite major downsizing
Galderma Korea has recently been sued by its labor union.
The company’s labor union took legal actions against the management, claiming its management had crippled the normal operation of the labor-management council and failed to carry out their agreement.
Specifically, the unionists said, Galderma Korea managers increased workload by drastically curtailing workforce and changed employment rules unilaterally.
Seo Yeong-min, head of Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union’s Galderma Korea branch, confirmed on July 18 that the union had filed the suit against Galderma Korea with the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
“CEO Rene Wipperich implemented early retirement program since he took office in August 2018, which caused 30 out of the total 90 employees in the sales, marketing and accounting departments to retire,” Seo told Korea Biomedical Review over the phone.
Many of the remaining employees are suffering from a sharp increase of workload after the major cutback, he said, adding that the company has had no recruitment plan and not looked for candidates to hire.
Seo acknowledged that the company had suffered from financial difficulties since 2017.
“The new CEO Rene Wipperich, who was appointed by the headquarters, probably decided on the major downsizing to resolve the financial difficulties. We had 96 employees at the end of last year, but the number dropped to 30 this past May, as many had left through the early retirement program and more resigned after that, not being able to withstand the increased workload,” he said.
The company has filled some vacancies since then, and currently, 76 are working. The number is still down by 20 from what it used to be, which means that we all have the added workload of the 20 missing staffs, he said.
Most of the layoffs occurred in the sales department, and the remaining sales force is facing an enormously increased workload, Seo argued.
“The sales staff complained that it is impossible for them to cover all of their clients, but the company answered that they don’t have to and that they should focus on big customers who make most prescriptions,” the union leader said. “At the same time, however, the company keeps on setting higher sales targets and keeps pressuring the staff, making it impossible for the sales representatives to give up some of their clients. That makes them work harder and longer.”
Seo also maintained that the company unilaterally revised employment rules related to the employees’ welfare benefits such as providing vehicles and paying overtime work.
Moreover, the company did not make an official announcement but contacted each employee separately, he said.
The company also made differences in welfare by, for instance, telling new staffs that there would be no vehicle provision for them and discouraging executives from claiming overtime wages, according to Seo.
“Employees have called for improving these situations since late last year through the labor-management council, by organizing the union on March and demanding official replies on several occasions but the company remains silent,” he said.
Seo stressed that the company has made behaviors smacking of obstructing the union’s legal activities by failing to keep agreements made between the union and the management and refusing to hold a regular union-management council, all of which is tantamount to violating the Act Concerning the Promotion of Worker Participation and Cooperation.
“These are the reasons the union filed a suit against the management of the company. We will strive to normalize the company by revealing various illegal acts through investigation,” Seo said.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor began investigations in early July and summoned the union officials Friday. The schedule for investigations into the management has yet to be disclosed.
Korea Biomedical Review contacted Galderma Korea to check the facts on the union’s claims, but the company refused to respond.