2019-03-22 21:12 KST  
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Cort Guitars' illegal layoff
Shon Jungmin (mshon)   
Cort Guitars, Korea's leading electric guitar manufacturer, exploited their workers and has ignored those who illegally have been laid off since 2007.
The guitar maker, ranking second in Korea's market, dominates 30 percent of the global guitar industry, supplying guitars with Fender Musical Instruments Corporations(FMIC) and Ibanez Guitars, the world's dominant guitar makers, under OEM deals.
Cort had never been in the red between 1996 and 2007 except 2006. However, the concern said deficit and conflicts with their labor union led them to fire 56 out of 160 workers in Incheon's plant in April, 1997. Then they fired the remaining hands and shut down the factory in August, 2008 without early notice. Since then the unionists have been raising their voices on the illegal layoff.
Meanwhile, management got better off at the cost of those dismissed. They saw themselves promoted in October 2006 and December 2007 and got their salary raised while factory workers had pink slips. Those who hadn't been laid off had to work longer hours to meet targeted production from April 12, 2007, the dismissal day to April 29 2007, up 330 percent in average working hours from a year earlier.
Furthermore, Cort stood at 315 percent in current ratio and 37 percent in debt ratio, well above the music industry's average, 103.9 percent and 168.35 percent respectively.
That's why both Incheon District Court and Seoul High Court ruled "the dismal was unreasonable." They saw Cort was not in "urgent necessity in management" to dismiss plant workers, the first requirement to fire workers in Korea. Cort workers won the case in Incheon District Court's first civil case trial and Seoul High Court's second administrative litigation trial. Now, the union is waiting for the ruling of the Supreme Court. They suspect Cort would open their plants again, hire and exploit workers again if the union gives up the struggle.
To tell how Cort exploited and dismissed Korean workers, they went to NAMM Show in the United States, one of the largest music product trade shows in the world, in January this year as Cort displayed their products. Tom Morello, a guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, an American Rap metal band, strongly supported the Cort workers.
They also went to Musical Instruments Fair in Japan last year and International Trade Fair for Musical Instruments in Germany in 2009. FMIC has visited Korea to examine Cort's exploitation of workers.
Currently, Cort operates plants in Indonesia and China with all Korean factories in Incheon and Daejeon closed.

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