Ssangyong Motor Workers Continue their Struggle for Reinstatement

RIAWM International Department

After more than 1000 days of struggle, workers dismissed from Ssangyong Motor's Pyeongtaek factory in 2009 have yet to be granted negotiations with the company's Indian management. Workers were dismissed in the process of structural adjustment in preparation for Ssangyong Motor's sale to the Indian conglomerate Mahindra Group. At that time, dismissed workers were joined by their still-employed colleagues in a 77-day strike and factory occupation under the slogan, "We will live and survive together."

Ssangyong Motor workers

The Korean government responded to the 2009 struggle with brutal and bloody suppression. It mobilized armed special police forces and helicopters, which rained pepper spray on the desperately struggling workers.

The struggle ended with the company agreeing to reinstate the dismissed workers after a year of unpaid leave. Yet neither the government nor the company has shown any accountability in the aftermath. Not even a small part of the agreement reached between the workers and management has been implemented. In the meantime, 22 workers and their family members have committed suicide due to deep sorrow and desperation.

Continuing the struggle, the Korean Metal Workers Union Ssangyong Motor Branch and many social movement organizations including PSSP have pitched 'Hope Tents' in front of the Ssangyong Motor factory in Pyeongtaek since December 2011. They organized national demonstrations called 'Day of Siege against Ssangyong Motor' three times in December, January and February. Thousands of people participated. On April 21, they will hold the 4th 'Day of siege'.

The Ssangyong Motor struggle epitomizes key issues faced by Korean workers, including mass layoffs, state violence and speculative foreign capital. We must build broader and firmer solidarity and strengthen our struggle if we are to win reinstatement of the dismissed workers, prevent further deaths and confront the wider social problems that Ssangyong Motor represents.

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