SsangYong Strikers Agree to End Protests
The conflict started in mid-May when SsangYong's board announced the decision to cut 36 percent or 2,646 employees of its workforce. 1,670 workers agreed to quit their jobs voluntarily, while the rest of the ones affected by the layoff took over the plant.
After the plant management cut electricity and water supplies, police troops stormed the buildings in an attempt to take the strikers out. The first encounters ended with the workers fighting back with firebombs and steel pipes. Yesterday, in what seemed to be one of the last confrontation with the employees, commandos dropped tear gas from helicopters and re-gained control of all but one building.
The paintshop was the only one which survived the police assault, with troops unable to use firearm due to inflammable materials within the building.
After several rounds of negotiations, the union and the SsangYong board reached an agreement to fire only half of the workers who were initially projected to be laid off.
But things are far from getting better. According to recent reports, SsangYong, who operates under court protection since February, might head towards liquidation. The company sold only 71 vehicles last month, with no car built in South Korea. Exports fell to zero as well, as production at the Pyeongtaek plant was entirely suspended.