The Korea Herald


ST Pharm receives presidential award for improving labor-management relations

ST Pharm overcomes financial difficulties with strong bond between management and staff

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Dec. 1, 2021 - 17:00

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ST Pharm CEO Kim Kyung-jin (left) speaks with an employee. (ST Pharm) ST Pharm CEO Kim Kyung-jin (left) speaks with an employee. (ST Pharm)

ST Pharm, a South Korean biopharmaceutical company, has received a presidential award for its efforts to improve labor-management relations, the Korea Labor and Employment Service said Wednesday.

Founded in 2008, ST Pharm has been involved in the commissioned production of active pharmaceutical ingredients. Backed by its contract manufacturing capabilities, the company stepped up as one of major biopharmaceutical companies in South Korea amid the worldwide pandemic. In 2021, the company turned a profit for the first time.

Over the years, the company has weathered some rough patches. The company had been under financial distress since sales of their treatment for hepatitis C virus sharply dropped in 2017.

The company’s management, however, decided to negotiate with the company’s union to secure employment security, instead of restructuring the company’s labor sector.

In 2019, ST Pharm increased the salary of its employees and provided cash incentive to its workers. The labor side of the company, in return, gave full authority to the management for salary negotiations in 2020.

The workers, taking into account the prolonged financial difficulties, decided not to seek a pay raise and ease the company’s burden, a representative of the company’s labor union said.

The workers’ gesture of goodwill was paid back after the company’s business condition improved in 2021. The company provided significant pay raise, and incentives.

For setting up an exemplary labor-management relationship, ST Pharm received a presidential award, according to KLES.

The company’s efforts in introducing welfare and incentive programs helped the company to increase its productivity, as well as its earnings.

The company, which exports some 80 percent of its products, also continued to grow in recent years.

In 2020, sales of ST Pharm increased to 109 billion won, up from 93 billion won in 2019, even as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global economy.

The company’s growth in recent years is largely contributable to a shared consensus between labor and management that the company will grow together with its workers, a staffer at ST Pharm said.

As the company overcame its hardships together with its workers, the company was also able to build strong bonds with them.

The turnover rate of ST Pharm dropped significantly from between 2017 and 2020.

The number of female workers in 2020 reached 115, up from 96 in 2019. The number of female executives, too, increased to 20 in 2020 from 12 a year earlier.

“I don’t understand why we have to think about labor and management separately,” ST Pharm CEO Kim Kyung-Jin said. “I would rather think the company as a community where people work together and share their opinions.”

“I would like to make this company where children of employees hope to work at one day. To make the company a place where all employees are equally treated, we will continue to make improvements in all aspects of the company’s work environment,” Kim said.