Call to Action : Stop Police Suppression against the Striking workers of Ssangyong Motors!

Stop Police Suppression against the Striking workers of Ssangyong Motors!

Unionist’s wife is driven to her death… How many more have to die?

“Lay-offs are Murder!” 

The KCTU firmly condemns the police clamp-down on striking workers of Ssangyong Motors, which restarted in the morning of July 20th despite repetitious warnings from the KCTU, and strongly demands the immediate withdrawal of riot police from the Ssangyong Motor Pyeongtaek plant. The KCTU also demands that the management of Ssangyong Motors immediately cancel all lay offs, which had eventually driven the wife of a unionist and mother of newborn baby to her death.

At 10:00 am on 20th July, riot police entered the factory compound simultaneously with court officials and creditors who tried to deliver a forced execution (eviction) order. The police surrounded the paint factory where 800 workers are sitting in on the 60th day of the strike, and vigilantly monitored any movement of striking workers. Over 3,000 riot police and around 30 vehicles including water cannons, lighting vehicles, ladder trucks and helicopters have been mobilized for this operation. Prior to police operation of advancement into factory compound, the management had ordered all (non-striking) employees to return to work and cut off electricity, water and gas from the paint factory. From 16th July, the management has blocked all food from entering the factory and then on 19th, it even disallowed medical doctors and nurses from entering the compound. The police operation comes just one day after the disclosure of the company’s internal e-mails detailing plans that it was looking into using ‘sleeping gas’ to break the factory occupation.

After news came in that police had started to advance into the compound, another news came in that wife of KMWU Ssangyong Motors Branch policy director had committed suicide. She was the 28-year old mother of a baby just 8 months old and a four-year old, and was suffering stress and anxiety from receiving subpoenas and warrant for her husband’s arrest. Recently, company managers were known to have made visits to workers’ homes, where only wives and children are present, and threatened family members with imprisonment of their spouses and confiscation of their homes and assets to pay the company back damages claims for the strike. As the union warned several times, and as reality manifests, “dismissals are, in fact, murder”. The death of the unionist’s wife is, in fact, homicide committed by the management and government. They have forced families to separate because of the need to prolong the sit-in strike against massive dismissals, and now with police clamp-down, they had led a wife and mother to take her own life. The actions and attitude of both the management and government are inhumane. Are profit of Shanghai Motors and the wellbeing of managers so much more important than human lives? The KCTU will hold the government and management responsible for the series of deaths that have taken place at Ssangyong Motors.

The KCTU firmly condemns the management’s behavior to break the strike without any regard whatsoever for human lives or solutions to the crisis. Furthermore, we cannot but hold the police, which are mobilized and are acting according to the orders from the company, responsible. The KCTU maintains that police suppression symbolizes further catastrophe rather than any attempts to solve the crisis. We had already warned several times that police suppression will only call for disaster. However, police operation is now being implemented, which can only be interpreted as a signal that the management and government do not have any will to solve the situation through genuine dialogue with the union. It has already been manifested that the management is primarily responsible for driving the Ssangyong crisis to a dead end. In the meantime, the government, which holds power and responsibility to break the ice, is merely focusing on physical suppression.

Rather than mobilizing the police under lobbies from the management, the government should exert effort to revive and normalize Ssangyong Motors by various measures including injection of bailout funds and genuine trade union-government talks.

KCTU is urgently calling for solidarity with the workers of Ssangyong Motor who have been on strike for more than 60 days. Please organize any possible actions such as sending protest letter to South Korean Embassy or Consulate at your countries, organizing press conference or campaigns in front of them etc.

Please be sure to copy your protest letter to KCTU( and KMWU( 

–          Stop the on-going police operation against the striking workers at the Ssangyong Motor Pyeongtaek Plant!

–          Withdraw Police Forces from Ssangyong Motors immediately!

–          Step up for genuine dialogue with the Union to seek reasonable solution!

–          Stop unilateral massive lay-offs! “Lay-offs are Murder!”

 * Please also see the attached file which include KCTU Background Analysis, entilted with “Unilateral dismissals will do nothing to solve the crisis!”

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