On 11 July, at a sombre morning press conference co-organized by the KFSU-Mart Workers Union and the People’s Livelihood Action Committee of the Democratic Party, a grieving family called on Costco Korea to take responsibility and apologize for any role in the recent death of their family member who died on the job.
The deceased, a young man aged 29 years old, joined Costco’s Hanam City store in 2019 and started working as a cashier at the checkout counter. At the time of his death on 19 June, the deceased was in charge of parking lots, carts, and parking management.
His death corresponded with a heat advisory issued for Hanam City on 18 & 19 June. It is known that there were no separate air conditioning facilities and thermometers at the deceased’s worksite. Costco’s cashiers, carts, and parking attendants are not only forced to stand and work but also have nowhere to sit and rest during business hours.
His last text message to his family on the day he died was, “My chest is tight, and I can’t breathe well.”
Kim Gil-sung, the deceased’s father, said in a statement issued at the press conference, “The company adheres to the position that it is difficult to deal with industrial accidents. My son, who didn’t have a chronic illness, died while working at the company, so why is it unrelated to work?”
KFSU President Kang Kyu-Hyok, also said, “We strongly condemn Costco Korea for not hiring the necessary manpower, squeezing it to cut costs, and failing to provide essential things for the lives and safety of workers in a timely manner. Costco must take responsibility and measures to prevent it from happening again.”
KFSU-Mart Industry Union President Jung Min-Jeung emphasized, “We very much want to address the working conditions the workers are subjected to, but the Costco Korea management has resisted all efforts to engage in collective bargaining over the three years. The management claimed that its system and working environment are well-equipped. But this tragedy demands us to reflect on why a worker died in such a manner.”
The KFSU-Mart Industry Union and KFSU demand that a major accident investigation be launched.