As labor opposes the "poor-performance layoffs," which allow companies to fire employees who lack the ability to perform their tasks or who have a poor work attitude, the labor union at Bayer Korea argued that the management recently made a move more outrageous than the poor-performance layoffs by urging its employees to resign without reasonable grounds.
The layoff of poor-performing workers (general layoffs), which the government has been discussing in the process of promoting five major bills for labor reforms, is being criticized as “easy” layoffs to pressure the workers. But Bayer Korea urged three team leaders with excellent performances to resign based on a vague reason—the decision was based on a comprehensive judgment—igniting criticism that the company practically fired the workers by forcing them to resign.
The Bayer Korea union held a rally in front of the company's headquarters in Seoul on November 18 along with the leaders of the Bayer HealthCare union, the Bayer Chemicals union, the Korea Democratic Pharmaceutical Union and the Seoul branch of the Federation of Korean Chemical Workers' Union and in the ensuing press conference said, "The three leaders of the sales team in the Women's Health Care Division, who were advised to resign, showed excellent performances, and so there was no reason to let them go."
Chairman of the Bayer Korea union, Song Jin-jung argued, "We asked the company to explain why these workers were asked to resign, but the company simply said that it was a decision made based on a comprehensive judgment. It's not just the union members; none of the employees can understand the criteria for the decision."
In the recent wage negotiations, Ingrid Drechsel, the new CEO of Bayer Korea, and the company's human resources department stressed that there would be no downsizing, but according to the union's explanation, the company simply notified these employees to resign without consulting the union.
Ji Seok-man, a labor consultant at Labor 119, a labor consultancy, which provides legal advise to the union, argued that Bayer Korea was forcing resignations in order to lay off its workforce through expedient measures.
Ji said, "The company is carrying out 'no-questions-asked' layoffs, something worse than the controversial layoff of low-performing workers. According to a Supreme Court precedent, the layoff of poor-performing workers requires objective data showing that the worker lacks the ability to perform his task based on a rational evaluation, and the worker must also be given a chance to improve his abilities through job training and job relocation. Bayer Korea just argues that the decision was based on a comprehensive judgment, an outrageous reason that doesn't even meet such standards. The company is literally being creative in laying off its workers."
Meanwhile, according to the union, the three employees who were advised to resign will be put on a waiting list for a transfer as of 2016 and have been excluded from the organization chart distributed within the company on December 18.
Song said, "The three people who have been advised to resign are managers who might not be easy to control from the middle manager's perspective. They performed well, but they were always outspoken. If they are evaluated based on activities other than sales when they’re working in the sales department, then what criteria should they keep in mind while they work? The company claims there will be no massive layoffs, but I think they are asking workers to resign in order to achieve the same goal by letting workers go bit by bit."
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