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Ssangyong Staff Threaten Raid on Pyeongtaek Plant

Posted August. 04, 2009 08:43,   


Representatives of Ssangyong Motor employees said yesterday that they will raid the carmaker’s paint workshop being occupied by striking workers if police do not force them out.

The Ssangyong union since May 22 has occupied the workshop at the company’s sole plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.

Six representatives of Ssangyong staff visited yesterday the meeting room for the company’s creditor union, a coalition of creditors and suppliers of the troubled carmaker. A creditor union official quoted the representatives as saying they will enter the paint workshop and recover the facility today or tomorrow.

The representatives also asked creditors to delay the application for Ssangyong’s early bankruptcy scheduled for Wednesday.

Physical conflict between Ssangyong employees and unionized workers are feared to erupt again since the first altercation occurred June 26-27.

Ssangyong staff mobilized more than 10 forklifts, advanced to within 20 to 30 meters of the workshop yesterday, and removed a barricade installed by striking workers. Union members responded by hurling stones and Molotov cocktails and shooting and nuts from large slingshots.

On the representatives’ request, the company said, “Employees are in no position to enter the paint workshop immediately and don’t have a plan.”

Analysts say, however, that Ssangyong management will find it hard to control its employees given their anger and the company’s inability to promise anything.

On the planned raid, National Policy Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak told reporters yesterday, “Management should not enter the site at random,” adding, “Police should not enter the site jointly with management, and even if an operation is conducted, police will do it alone at their own discretion.”

Last month, Ssangyong saw its sales plunge 98.4 percent year-on-year after selling just 71 units in Korea and none abroad. The automaker has not produced a single vehicle since its unionized workers occupied and began a sit-in protest at the Pyeongtaek plant.

The company said it has incurred 316 billion won (260 million U.S. dollars) in losses due to the strike through Thursday.