Pantech Employees Volunteer Job Downsizing to Save Company
kpopluv, April 23, 2015, 8:51 a.m.
Workers at bankrupt smartphone maker Pantech pledged on paper Wednesday to give up their jobs and accept massive downsizing to entice a new buyer. Around 1,300 Pantech workers vowed to "endure any hardship to save the company and leave it entirely up to a new buyer to determine whether to lay them off or retain them.
Senior staff already tendered their resignations en masse to protect the jobs of ordinary workers in case of an acquisition. A Pantech spokesman said the move was an expression of the employees' "desperate desire" to save their company by making a new buyer feel less pressured to retain all of the workers.
The workers are mindful of potential foreign buyers who might be turned off by Korea's reputation for militant unions and insistence on lifetime employment. There have been three attempts so far to find a buyer for the ailing smartphone maker, but all failed.
The first tender last August failed after no buyer expressed interest. The second attracted a U.S. hedge fund, which failed to make the final payment. The third bid recently drew three interested buyers, but the Seoul Central District Court aborted the sale after reviewing their letters of intent and concluding they all lacked the capabilities.
Pantech was founded in 1991 as a small pager venture and grew to become Korea's No. 3 mobile phone maker with accumulated sales of W29 trillion (US$1=W1,080). But Pantech suffered severe cash flow problems after losing in competition against Samsung and Apple, and founder and vice president Park Byoung-yeop resigned.
Yet the company could still be an attractive acquisition target since it holds over 4,000 patents. When it went into court receivership last year, around 500 subcontractors held rallies in front of Cheong Wa Dae and the National Assembly seeking support for Pantech.