Woowahan Youths Improves Riders’ Working Conditions
Woowahan Youths Improves Riders’ Working Conditions
  • Reporter Lee Seung-ah
  • 승인 2020.11.27 14:38
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▲KCTU and Woowahan Youths signing a collective agreement / Yonhap
▲KCTU and Woowahan Youths signing a collective agreement / Yonhap


On Oct. 22, Woowahan Youths, a subsidiary of Woowa Brothers and the operator of its delivery agents, known as Baemin riders, and the service union of the Service General Union of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), signed a collective agreement on improving the treatment of delivery agents (also referred to as riders). For a person to be recognized as a worker under the current Labor Standards Act, specific and considerable command and supervision of the employee is required. However, riders are classified as “personal operators” as they do not meet these criteria. It is the first time in Korea that an IT-based platform company, which is in charge of simple brokerage, has successfully signed a collective agreement with a union of personal operators without any third-party intervention.
“We hope the collective agreement will serve as a priming water for the domestic delivery industry,” said Kim Byoung-woo, CEO of the Woowahan Youths. He also promised to “take good care of the riders with the awareness that they are partners in the delivery business.” According to this agreement, Woowahan Youths accepts KCTU as a labor group negotiating on the delivery environment, delivery conditions, the safety of its members, and protection of riders’ human rights. The agreement covers the following four main points: the company’s sustainable growth, union members’ right to work safely, an improvement of rider treatment through enhanced welfare, and joint labor-management efforts to improve social awareness about riders.
For Woowahan Youths’ sustainable growth and improvement of rider treatment, the company decided to eliminate commission fees. Until recently, delivery riders had to pay commission fees between 200 KRW to 300 KRW per delivery. Provisions concerning delivery charges were also elaborated. If a rider has to go up the stairs, he or she can ask for an additional cost of approximately 500 KRW per five floors, and if the amount of delivery is excessive, the rider can request for more riders to distribute the delivery load instead of delivering everything on its own. In addition, Woowahan Youths decided to eliminate the “forced-dispatch system”, a type of dispatch that riders could not refuse. Here, “dispatch” refers to a system that connects each restaurant owner to the rider who will deliver the food. The company also promised to provide medical checkups and clothing expenses to the riders. Furthermore, they will guarantee resting time and provide holiday gifts for riders with long-term contracts.
For the safety of union members, both Woowahan Youths and KCTU agreed to provide regular safety training for riders. They also agreed to ensure a safe delivery environment for the riders as much as possible, such as allowing the company to suspend delivery services in severe bad weather.
Finally, to change the social perception towards riders, Woowahan Youths decided to hold a forum to improve social awareness and service quality. Also, a social media channel will be set up for smooth communication.
Recently, personal operators working for platform companies are being accepted as workers under the Labor Union Act as the unions they establish are recognized as legitimate unions. However, since most of the current labor union regulations focus on workers under the Labor Standards Act, it is difficult for such unions to exercise practical influence. Under these circumstances, Woowahan Youths presented a new perspective by signing a collective agreement with KCTU. Similar to riders, jobs that are registered as private businesses include courier drivers and Kakao Carpool drivers. The agreement between Woowahan Youths and the riders may be the beginning of a more diverse and flexible company-worker agreement.