Paris Baguette speeds up efforts to transfer bakers

SEOUL (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Paris Baguette is trying to speed up the process of having a third-party corporation to continue employing outsourced bakers at its stores.

Bakery chain Paris Baguette is speeding up its efforts to hold explanatory sessions for bakers working at its franchises to convince them to agree to employment with a new third-party corporation.

The third-party corporation, which will be jointly created by Paris Baguette, franchise owners and outsourcing companies, is designed to allow Paris Baguette to continue employing outsourced bakers at its stores in line with current labor laws.

Paris Baguette franchises have employed nearly 5,400 bakers from contractors. However, the Labor Ministry determined in September that this form of outsourcing was an “illegal dispatch” because Paris Baguette was giving direct instructions to non-employees.

If contracted bakers agree to the newly created corporation, they are expected to receive an average raise of 13.1 percent, as well as a 100 percent increase in holiday bonuses. Bakers will also receive benefits such as injury insurance, health checkups and opportunities to study at SPC’s food school, an official with Paris Baguette’s parent company SPC confirmed.

The new corporation has been tentatively named “Happy Partners,” with details such as its chief executive still to be determined. Its main function will be to allow Paris Baguette’s bakers to remain in their positions without being directly employed by the bakery chain, while also receiving better working conditions.

Labor laws currently bar dispatched workers because the contracted “irregular” workers often work at worse conditions than direct employees of companies.

Paris Baguette has maintained that it would be nearly impossible to directly employee these 5,400 bakers with SPC, as they would be working at franchise branches and not at stores directly operated by the firm. The Labor Ministry has agreed to allow Paris Baguette to pursue creating a joint corporation to employ the bakers, under the condition of unanimous agreement from the affected bakers.

Industry sources say it is likely most of the bakers will agree to the new corporation to ensure job security, although unionized bakers have maintained the position that they should be employed directly by SPC.

For now, courts have temporarily suspended the Labor Ministry’s demand for direct employment of the bakers with SPC until Nov. 29, with a hearing set for Nov. 22. If the Labor Ministry’s demand is upheld by the courts, Paris Baguette will only have until Nov. 29 to gather the needed votes.

“We planned to hold 54 sessions with 100 bakers at each session, and as of yesterday we have reached about 40 percent,” said an official with SPC.

“We have not determined exactly how many bakers have come to each session, and will hold additional sessions for those who were unable to attend.”

Paris Baguette has said that it expects that it would need at least three months to fully inform all of the affected bakers of their options.

“The timeline for us will be decided by the courts on Nov. 22,” said the official. “Until then, we are working as fast as we can.”


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