Coupang tries to show its warehouse isn't too hot
Coupang gave a video peek at conditions at one of its logistics centers Thursday after a labor union complained about a poor work environment and stifling hot centers.
Coupang gave glimpses of some parts of its warehouses in the past. “But this is the first time we revealed a specific work environment and scenes of employees actually working,” said Kim Yu-yeong, a spokesperson for the New York Stock Exchange-listed Coupang.
The video shows its Anseong warehouse in Gyeonggi, which has air conditioners installed on the ceiling. It shows workers being given ice cream, iced water and portable fans. The video shows scenes of employees taking some time to chat on the phone.
On Monday, members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) demanded the government inspect the e-commerce firm’s work environments.
The union said there were around 10 days when the temperatures in one of Coupang’s warehouses rose to 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and up to 35.9 degrees Celsius at 4 a.m. from late July through mid-August.
They also complained of not having enough breaks during work hours.
“Air conditioners have been installed, but only areas within a two- to three-meter radius are cool,” said Park Min-ha, a worker at Coupang’s warehouse in Goyang, Gyeonggi, at the union's presentation Monday. “Managers tell us to take breaks, but that’s not easy because standards for contract renewals are vague.”
On Thursday, Coupang rebutted the claims.
“Despite sweltering heat this summer, we made sure to maintain the temperature at 26 degrees Celsius or below in the staff lounge” in the Anseong warehouse, Coupang said in a statement.
The company said the temperatures of some work spaces right under the cooling system were below 20 degrees Celsius, though it did not reveal the average temperature for the work space.
It vowed to install more cooling equipment at other warehouses.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor encouraged reports from businesses that were not following measures to prevent workers getting heatstroke from Aug. 1 through Aug. 20.
The measures include offering cool water and shade to employees and allowing them to change working hours when there is a heat wave warning.
"Coupang will strive to lead the industry and offer the best [work environment]," said the company in a statement.
Coupang reported revenues of $4.48 billion in the second quarter of 2021, up 71 percent on year. Its net loss was $518.6 million, around 400 percent larger than a year earlier.
BY JIN MIN-JI [firstname.lastname@example.org]