KT says 8,320 have applied to retire but union angry

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KT says 8,320 have applied to retire but union angry

KT, the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier, finished accepting applicants for early retirement at 6 p.m. yesterday and said it will determine the final number of employees that it will lay off on April 23.

A total 8,320 employees have applied for retirement as of 6 p.m. yesterday, said KT, which the company said is more than it predicted.

“This large-scale voluntary retirement will serve as a cornerstone for KT to become the No. 1 carrier by overcoming management crisis and through innovation and changes” said Han Dong-hoon, a spokesman for KT.

The average age of retirement applicats is 51 and their average employment period was 26 years.

Earlier this month KT decided to scale back its work force, mostly laying off employees who had worked for the company for more than 15 years, which will be the first downsizing since KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu took office in January.

The move is part of KT’s efforts to pull itself out of the red by cutting back on labor costs. Last year, KT posted an operating loss for the first time since its establishment.

The company was originally planning to accept applications until April 24 but has pushed the deadline ahead by a day to speed up its reformation while it serves out its operating ban, which it was issued for offering excessive subsidies to subscribers.

But some sources said that KT advanced the deadline to avoid conflicts between labor and management.

The company laid off about 6,000 employees in 2009 under what it calls voluntary resignation, and in 2003 it laid off 5,500 workers.

While the company said that labor and management have agreed that downsizing is the only way for KT to improve, a labor union formed in 2011 by KT employees is protesting.

The union, Human KT has criticized voluntary retirement, and its members claim that the company forced them to apply for retirement.

The group condemned the No. 1 KT labor union, saying that it is representing the company instead of workers because No. 1 KT has said it approves of voluntary retirement.

“KT has been forcing the so-called voluntary retirement, threatening the workers who wish to continue working at KT by saying it will transfer them to other provinces if they don’t leave the company,” Human KT said.

However, a KT spokesman said that there has been no conflict between management and labor.

KT will save 700 billion won in labor costs each year.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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