Big Korean companies cut payrolls amid uncertainties

Big Korean companies cut payrolls amid uncertainties

South Korea’s top 30 business groups reduced their workforces by 1.4 percent this year as they implemented cost-cutting measures amid a drawn-out slump, data showed Wednesday, despite the government’s effort to spur employment.

As of end-September, the combined workforce of 255 companies affiliated with the leading business groups came to 988,345, down 14,308 from the end of December, according to the data compiled by industry tracker CEO Score.

Of the total family-controlled conglomerates, known here as chaebol, top player Samsung Group slashed its workforce by some 9,500 this year as part of efforts to reorganize its business portfolio and sell off some business units.

Samsung’s 22 affiliates hired 212,496 employees as of end-September, down 4.3 percent, or 9,515 from the end of last year as Samsung Heavy Industries, Samsung C&T, Samsung SDI and others eliminated jobs through massive voluntary retirement programs.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., a major shipyard, cut its workforce by 10.9 percent or 4,110 this year, the second-largest payroll cut among the surveyed firms, followed by Doosan Group with a workforce reduction of 1,978 or 10.6 percent, telecom giant KT with 1,203 or 2.5 percent.

Hyundai Heavy, and its two smaller rivals — Samsung Heavy and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering — have slashed their payrolls by a combined 6,131 in the first nine months of the year, as they struggle to cut costs amid falling orders.

Among the 15 conglomerates that increased their payrolls this year were LG Group, CJ and Hanwha and Hyundai Motor Group, according to the data.

LG Group had a workforce of 125,046 as of September, up 835 or 0.7 percent from the end of last year, reporting the highest increase rate among the 15 business groups.

Hyundai Motor Group, the world’s fifth-largest automaker, increased its workforce by 600 this year.

Separate data from another industry tracker show that financial service firms also sharply cut their workforce this year.

The combined number of employees at the country’s top five banks, including Woori Bank, KB Kookmin Bank and KEB-Hana Bank, stood at 78,010 at the end of September, down 1,116 or 1.4 percent from the end of last year.

KEB-Hana Bank, the country’s top lender by asset cut its workforce by 356 in the first nine months of the year, followed by KB Kookmin Bank with 296 and Woori Bank with 249, the data showed.


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