An estimated 600 workers resolve to remain at the auto plant despite impending police raid and company announcement to employees to prepare to return to work Tuesday
Since the rupture of negotiations between Ssangyong Motors labor and management, the sense of tension inside the paint shop that has served as the site of the strike is on the rise. An impending police raid is expected and some of the workers are preparing to leave the site, however, an estimated 600 workers are pledging stay regardless of the consequences. The company also ordered its 4,500 employees to be on standby to work on Tuesday.
The company announced that since early Sunday morning, the 42nd day of the strike and the day talks fell apart, a total of 92 unionists have left the site. The company also turned off electricity to the paint shop on Sunday, after having already suspended food delivery on July 17, and water and gas supplies on July 20. The paint shop, with its food, water, gas and now electricity suspended is standing in front of a certain storm. Those who left the company and those that remain, their families, creditors and police, are looking at the place with unease.
Han Sang-gyun, the Ssangyong Motors chapter head of the Korean Metal Workers Union met with unionists at several locations throughout the plant Monday. He said the real intention of the company was to kill the union. At 11:00 a.m. orange bags filled with tearing agents once again began falling from helicopters onto the paint shop from above. Someone called out, “Are we to be treated as weeds that require pesticide?” Ever since the electricity was shut off, the unionists have used butane gas to cook rice to eat rice balls. The air conditioning has been shut off too, so the inside of the paint shop is sweltering with a few lit candles placed here and there. The entire site is full of flammable materials like paint thinner and the safety of the workers appears unstable.
Clashes with the company have recommenced. Unionists fired projectiles using slingshots as company security officers attempted to remove a metal barricade set up by the unionists near the paint shop.
The families of these “surviving workers” are overcome with concern. A member of the group, “Wives Who Love Ssangyong Motors,” expressed her frustration and said, “It seems the union’s unreasonableness and the company’s announcement of a breakdown in talks have led us to this, and the order from the company for employees to prepare to enter the factory has made us uneasy. Meanwhile, this asshole’s administration is just standing by as so many people are struggling…”