Pernod Ricard Korea, the Korean unit of French liquor company Pernod Ricard, is grappling with multiple scourges - sagging sales, labor unrest, and sexual harassment scandal.
The labor union of the liquor distributor recently released a statement arguing the management led by Jean Touboul since 2016 has caused a serious crisis to the company by abusing power and treating employees badly. The union said the executives frequently abused workers verbally and even sexually harassed a female worker going through infertility treatment.
“About 45 workers or 17 percent of the entire workers have left the company since Jean Touboul led the firm,” said the union.
Many employees of its Jeju branch taking up about 20 percent sales of its famous brand Imperial moved to rivals because they couldn’t stand the management’s oppressive behaviors, it added.
The unionized workers plan to stage a strike and file for complaint with the labor ministry and the National Assembly. The management refuted workers’ claims and said that they would settle the problem with the union through conversation.
The union-management dispute comes at a time when the company is saddled with dwindling sales. Pernod Ricard that distributes the globally well-known whisky labels such as Ballantine’s and Imperial saw its sales in Korea plunge to 196.5 billion won ($183 million) in 2016 from 324.3 billion won in 2012 amid the sluggishness in the hard liquor.
Korean demand for whisky has been on the steady decline for nearly a decade amid lengthy economic slowdown. The country’s powerful anti-graft law that took effect in late 2016 and growing popularity of lighter spirits in recent years has further cut whisky sales in the country.
By Kim Byung-ho and Choi Mira
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