Paris Baguette receives first fine on baker issue

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Paris Baguette receives first fine on baker issue

The Ministry of Employment and Labor slapped Paris Baguette with a 16.2 billion won ($14.9 million) first-round penalty for not following a government order to directly hire bakers dispatched to its franchise outlets across the nation.

Once an additional investigation is done, it could impose a second-round penalty, the government said Wednesday. The government had ordered Paris Baguette, the nation’s biggest bakery chain, to directly hire bakers instead of sourcing them from third party employers, claiming the conglomerate violated labor laws. If it didn’t, a 10 million won penalty would be imposed per baker left unhired, the government said.

Out of 5,309 bakers working at Paris Baguette franchises, 1,627 didn’t oppose the government’s direct hiring order in September. The 16.2 billion won fine is based on their reaction and their numbers.

The government Wednesday said it will investigate the remaining 3,682 bakers who disagreed with the direct hiring order to see if their stance is genuine. If it is, no fines will be applied for bakers who oppose the direct hiring system.

“Paris Baguette filed an agreement representing 3,682 bakers’ claim that they do not agree with the direct hiring system,” said an official at the ministry. “But there were withdrawals later by a number of bakers so there seems to be a need for us to double check.”

Since Dec. 14, text messages have been sent to bakers. Another round of in-depth investigation will follow if some bakers admit their opposition the direct hiring was not genuine.

Paris Baguette started a joint venture called Happy Partners early this month with franchise owners and outsourcing labor agencies to improve the working conditions of its bakers. It was the chain’s solution to the government’s direct hiring order, which was expected to cost 60 billion won. Through Happy Partners, Paris Baguette obtained pledges from 3,700 bakers that they no longer want the direct hiring system ordered by the government.

A group of bakers who are part of the progressive Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, who strongly support the direct hiring system, claimed some of the documents filed by Paris Baguette are not genuine. It said 170 bakers changed their minds. The result of the new probe will be announced next month.

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