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Coupang dragged down by virus outbreak, labor issues


The rapid growth of e-commerce giant Coupang has been clipped recently upon the recent outbreak of COVID-19 infections at its logistics centers in addition to sudden deaths of its workers in the past months.

On Wednesday, a civic group filed a complaint against Coupang’s founder and CEO Kim Bom-suk, claiming that his firm failed to inform customers properly about the COVID-19 cases of its employees.

The civic group, named “People’s livelihood solution committee (directly translated from Korean),” accused the retailer of violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act while handling of the situation after several employees at the Bucheon logistics center were diagnosed with the coronavirus. Since the first employee at the center was confirmed of COVID-19 on May 23, related cases stood at 119 as of Wednesday afternoon.

The spread has shed light on the working conditions at logistics centers.

On top of the pandemic issue, two employees died in the past week, raising questions over its working conditions.

On Monday, a subcontractor working at a cafeteria in Coupang’s logistics center in Cheonan died according to news reports. According to the medical authorities on Tuesday, the 39-year-old employee was reported to have suffered a cardiac arrest at the center’s kitchen, before she was transferred to a nearby hospital.

Earlier on March 12, a delivery worker was found dead during a delivery shift early in the morning in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province. The labor union claims he died from overwork, while the company cites the need for a thorough investigation.

Another contract worker at Incheon logistics center died on a delivery shift last Thursday. The 45-year-old worker’s shift was from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next day.

The police confirmed the cause of death as ischaemic heart disease.

By Jo He-rim (