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Baedal Minjok labor union fights to work longer

Woowa Youngmen, the operator of Baemin Riders -- a platform connecting restaurants and delivery drivers -- is facing opposition against its announcement to limit the weekly working hours of its delivery workers.

Woowa Youngmens is a subsidiary of Woowa Brothers, the operator of Korea’s No. 1 food delivery application by market share.

Mobile app for food delivery service Baedal Minjok
Mobile app for food delivery service Baedal Minjok

On Friday, it released a new work guideline, “2060 policy to prevent overworking,” to limit the workhours of drivers for Baemin Riders to 60 hours per week, starting from March 4.

For Baemin “connectors” -- its part-time delivery workers -- the company put a limit of 20 hours of work per week, in an apparent effort to differentiate the roles of Baemin Riders, who are full-time workers, and the part-time connectors.

Following the announcement, the Baemin Riders labor union, affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, issued statements to express both welcoming and complaining about the new company policy.

The KCTU’s labor union welcomed how the company came up with a way to differentiate Baemin connectors from Baemin Riders, as a lack of regulation had previously led to low morale among full-timers. It, however, pointed out that the new policy fails to reflect the reality of the delivery workers, and that shorter workhours would hurt their livelihood.

Rider Union, another local labor union established by delivery workers in May last year, expressed disapproval of both the company and the KCTU.

“(The new policy) raises many questions. What is the ground for the 20/60 hour limit? Is the workhour limit going to relieve the competition (between the riders and connectors)? What about complaints from the connectors?” Rider Union posed in its statement.

By Jo He-rim (