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(LEAD) Major shipyards to hire new workers despite ongoing restructuring

All News 14:30 April 28, 2016

(ATTN: ADDS info on Hyundai Heavy's personnel reshuffle in para 9-10)

SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's three major shipbuilders plan to recruit hundreds of new workers until next month despite the ongoing industrywide restructuring drive that includes massive layoffs of the existing workforce, sources said Thursday.

The three -- Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries Co. -- are seeking to hire a combined 400 college graduates by the end of May, according to the sources.

Market leader Hyundai Heavy, in particular, will take up 300 workers of the total planned employment, almost the same level of its hiring last year. DSME will also hire 20-30 new workers by the same cited period, the sources said.

Samsung Heavy has not disclosed its detailed near-term employment plan but the sources said that the number will likely be in the double digits, a far smaller number than around the 400 it hired during the first half of last year.

The combined employment is about a third of the number of their usually first-half hirings.

This still could provide a much-needed chance for many college graduates trying to land a job in the shipbuilding industry at a time when the whole industry is reeling from a protracted business slump and corporate restructuring, market watchers said.

Earlier this week, the Financial Services Commission, the country's financial watchdog, demanded local shipyards ramp up self-restructuring efforts including massive layoffs and sales of non-core assets. The recruitment of new workers will likely be carried out "separately" from the planned layoffs, they said.

Under their restructuring plans, Hyundai Heavy and Samsung Heavy are expected to eliminate up to 1,000 workers each through voluntary retirement or attrition, while DSME will let go of 2,300 more until 2019.

Earlier in the day, Hyundai Heavy said that it will cut the number of directors at its affiliates by 25 percent during the first half, meaning that about 60 executives will be let go under the upcoming downsizing.

"In the face of the worst ever situation of work shortage, we showed our strong will to do our best to survive by slashing the number of directors significantly," a Hyundai Heavy official said.

The shipbuilding industry, once regarded as a backbone of the country's economic growth and job creation, has been reeling from mounting losses caused by an industrywide slump and increased costs.

The big three shipyards racked up a combined loss of 7.7 trillion won (US$6.7 billion) last year. It was the first time that all three of the nation's largest industry players registered losses.

According to the data by global researcher Clarkson Research Services, South Korean shipbuilders had an order backlog totaling 27.59 million compensated gross tons (CGTs) as of end-March, the lowest since March 2004.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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