Image: Im Jong-rin announced the end of his hunger strike. Credit: Im Jong-rin.
Im Jong-rin 임종린, leader of the Paris Baguette 파리바게뜨 chapter of the National Democratic Labor Union for Chemical, Textile and Food Industries 전국민주화학섬유노동조합연맹, concluded his 53 day-long hunger strike on May 19 when it became clear extending his strike any longer would lead to death. Im’s demands included six days of sick days a month, guaranteed one-hour lunch break and protection of pregnant workers.
Paris Baguette, South Korea’s largest bakery chain with outposts in the United States, China and France, is notorious for maltreatment of its bakers. The company has demanded overtime work from its employees without pay, and withheld sick days from workers.
In a 2018 survey, 80.7% of Paris Baguette bakers said they had to report to work despite being sick. Half of the company’s pregnant bakers, or seven out of 14, suffered from miscarriage in 2017. With the company unwilling to negotiate, consumers are beginning a boycott of Paris Baguette’s parent company SPC Group, whose other brands include South Korea’s outposts of Baskin Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts.