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[Newsmaker] Starbucks Korea to hire 1,600 new staff this year

A truck that reads, “We want to sell coffee, not engage in marketing and promotions,” drives through the streets of Seoul on Oct. 7, after a promotional event drew long lines of customers at Starbucks stores. (Yonhap)
A truck that reads, “We want to sell coffee, not engage in marketing and promotions,” drives through the streets of Seoul on Oct. 7, after a promotional event drew long lines of customers at Starbucks stores. (Yonhap)

Stung by its employees‘ first collective action, Starbucks Korea said Sunday that it will hire 1,600 more baristas and store staff by the end of this year and improve working conditions.

The hiring plan is part of the firm’s package of measures announced in response to recent complaints from in-store staff that they were overworked and underpaid.

“We plan to hire in order to secure more staff and enhance work efficiency at stores nationwide. The company is also reviewing potential changes to the wage structure, which would include a pay raise for store managers, improved incentive plans and differentiated hourly wages based on experience,” the company said in a press release Sunday.

From Oct. 7-8, store employees and baristas mobilized two trucks in Seoul emblazoned with words of protest in the first collective action in 22 years at Starbucks Korea, where there is no labor union.

The action, organized through Blind, an anonymous social media app, was triggered by a reusable cup marketing event that drew long lines of customers at Starbucks stores.

Announcing the measures, Starbucks also said it would look for ways to prevent marketing and promotional events from putting too much pressure on employees and that it would form a special task force dedicated to the effort.

The team will predict customer demand and provide real-time support for difficulties faced during such promotions, Starbucks said.

As for the pay, the main complaint of employees was that they were getting paid a flat 9,200 won ($7.80) per hour, regardless of experience or job performance. Starbucks vowed to address the issue with an ongoing pay structure review.

Starbucks also said it would form a facilities and equipment team to improve the employees’ area and other working environments at Starbucks locations.

The chain said it would regularly communicate with store partner representatives to listen to their opinions and identify areas for improvement.

By Kang Jae-eun (kang.jaeeun@heraldcorp.com)
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