Despite accidentally grinding the global supply chain to a halt, things have actually been going rather well for Evergreen Marine Corp.
The Taiwanese company was one of the winners of the pandemic-era shipping boom, raking in a record profit in 2022.
According to financial reports released last week, the company’s revenue stood at $20.5 billion, an increase of 28% compared to the previous year, and more than three times higher than its 2020 income.
Keen to share its success with its 3,100 members of staff, Evergreen has handed out more than NT$1.92 billion ($62.8 million) in bonuses. That’s an average of around $20,000 per employee.
It comes after Evergreen Marine hit headlines for giving staff a bonus worth four years’ salary late last year, with some employees said to have received more than $65,000 on Dec. 30.
At the time the company did not respond to Fortune’s request for comment, but a source familiar with Evergreen Marine’s bonus structure anonymously told Bloomberg that the size of the bonuses was dependent on workers’ level of seniority and function.
According to filings now viewed by Bloomberg, Evergreen Marine confirmed it distributes 0.5% of its earnings as employee compensation with bonuses distributed according to the individual performance of employees.
Pay increases haven’t always been so easily won by Evergreen staff.
In January the Taipei Times reported that ground staff at Evergreen Airline Services Corp.—another company under the Evergreen Group umbrella—were given a salary increase worth $1,305 and an increase in vacation pay for the Lunar New Year holiday after they threatened a walkout over pay.
The pay packet inflation comes despite a hiccup in Evergreen Marine’s operations in 2021, when a vessel operated by the organization infamously blocked the Suez Canal, causing huge disruption across international supply chains.
The Ever Given got wedged across the Egyptian waterway which acts as a cut-through from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea.
With the passage blocked, other ships would have had to make the journey around the entire African continent –analysts estimated the blockage held up as much as $10.9 billion worth of cargo per day.
A six-day operation was undertaken to refloat the ship, and a person was killed during the process.
Months later, Egypt signed a compensation deal with the ship’s Japanese owner and its insurers. Terms of the agreement were not made public, but Egyptian authorities had reportedly demanded $550 million in damages.
Evergreen Marine Corp. did not respond to Fortune’s contact for comment.
Tide is turning
Evergreen staff may not want to rely on such generous bonuses every year.
In October last year, Evergreen’s president Eric Hsieh said demand had slowed somewhat, with no expectation of a rebound in the near future.
According to a Taipei Times report, Hsieh told investors at a conference that clients in the American and European markets had asked that the gap between their contract rates and their spot rates be reduced, which the company was having to review on a case-by-case basis.
This was echoed by Bloomberg Intelligence analysts Kenneth Loh and Eric Zhu, who wrote in a note on March 14: “We see indications that an increasing number of clients are attempting to renegotiate their long-term contracts with Evergreen, which could drive down the long-term contract freight rates that are key to profitability.”
Hseih added he was conservative but not pessimistic when looking at 2023, saying the company doesn’t expect to net a loss for the year. He added that although headwinds such as inflation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have an impact, his global economic forecast remains positive.