President Moon Jae-in toured Hanwha Q Cells’ plant in Jincheon, Chungcheongbuk-do, on Feb. 1. It is the first time President Moon has toured a plant of a conglomerate since his inauguration last May.
President Moon’s tour at Hanwha Q Cells was designed to give words of encouragement to the company’s exemplary practice in creating good jobs, one of the President Moon government’s state agendas. “I promised to support companies create many good jobs. Today, I am making good on that promise,” President Moon was quoted as saying.
Hanwha Q Cells has a photovoltaic power panel plant in Jincheon. The plant was originally operated by a 1,500-member crew under a three-team and three-shift format. The company shifted the operation of the plant into a four-team, three-shift paradigm and hired 500 new employees. In the process, management and labor agreed to reduce their working hours from 56 to 42 hours in return for guaranteeing 90 percent of their previous pay.
The compromise was selected as a “good practice” of “job sharing” based on a consensus between management and labor.
President Moon said this is an example of a genuine social compromise and labor-management harmony, and hiring 500 freshmen employees from a specialized high school in the region is an exemplary case of employing gifted manpower in a local district.
While touring the plant, President Moon was accompanied by Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn and Rhyu Sung-ju, the head of the plant. President Moon praised Hanwha Q Cell’s strong presence in the global photovoltaic power sector. The President Moon government plans to raise the portion of new and renewable energies to 20 percent by 2030 in return for waning the nation off nuclear power.
“Hanwha Q Cells topped the United States in terms of a market share,” Hanwha Q Cells President Nam Sung-woo said.
He said this year’s total sales were forecast to fall 50 percent from previous projections. President Moon looked into the damages that Korean companies suffered in the wake of U.S. safeguard measure against Korean-made solar panels. He stressed the need for securing alternative markets by diversifying exporting counties.
President Moon promised that the government will make concerted efforts with the companies to minimize the damages caused by U.S. action against Korean-made solar panels.
Hanwha Q Cells President Nam said the Korean photovoltaic power market is not big. Its market size is projected to rise to only 1.3GW this year. Hanwha Q Cells is primarily competing with Chinese rivals, and only Hanwha Q Cells and two U.S. solar makers have made it onto the list of the top 10 global companies. The other top 10 companies are all Chinese, President Nam said.
He said the Chinese solar panel market amounted to 38GW annually, and expressed hope the Korean government’s policy to expand domestic solar demand will be accelerated.