Ssangyong occupation update: day eleven, July 30, 2009

Negotiations have occurred several times throughout the day. The major hurdle is layoffs: management says they're necessary; strikers won't budge and demand that no one be laid off, even if it requires less hours for everyone and work furloughs. For the government and management it is crucial to break the strike so that austerity can be imposed on other autoworkers, as well as in other sectors needing restructuring due to the crisis. The biggest creditor of Ssangyong is Sanup Bank(Korean Development Bank), which is government owned.

Submitted by Hieronymous on July 31, 2009

***Update July 30, 2009***

The strikers are making I.W.W.-like demands that no one be laid off; they're willing to agree to a reduction in hours, including unpaid work furloughs, to protect the job security of all workers. Creditors are using the threat of bankruptcy and liquidation to pressure the strikers to end the occupation; the government is in collusion with management in wanting to crush the strike (and the union) and for production to continue with a smaller workforce.

Since government-run Sanup Bank is the biggest creditor to Ssangyong Motors, it is important for them to have production resume with a weaker union and a leaner, more flexible workforce in order to find buyers for the remaining shares of the company. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) of China presently has a 51% share, but their main interest was technology transfer as they had no interest in investing capital in Ssangyong to resume production. This is all complicated because Korean courts currently control Ssangyong under the terms of court receivership.

The resolution of this strike has direct bearing on future attempts at restructuring by management at Kia Motors, GM/Daewoo, and the industry giant Hyundai Motors. Some of the fiercest struggles in the class war of the past have occurred at the various industrial subsidiaries of the Hyundai group. Ruling class interests hope to crush the Ssangyong occupation to dissuade other workers from following suit.

From Korea Times:

07-30-2009 18:10
Breakthrough Expected in Ssangyong Negotiations

By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

PYEONGTAEK, Gyeonggi Province ― Representatives of fired workers and the management of Ssangyong Motor met Thursday amid a warning from creditors that the troubled carmaker will be liquidated unless the factory is normalized by Aug.5.

Unlike in previous talks, hopes for a peaceful settlement are growing as the two sides are getting closer to narrowing their differences on key issues, officials from both sides said.

"We expect the two sides to reach a conclusion through the meeting," Choi Sang-jin, the spokesman for Ssangyong management, said at a makeshift press center set up in the factory's parking lot. Choi refused to elaborate on the agenda, but implied that progress had been made. "We don't know when an agreement will be made,"

The two sides said the negotiation would be the "last" to hammer out a conclusion.

"No matter what the conclusion will be, no further talks will take place afterward," said a leader of the laid-off workers. An accord might lead to the reinstatement of a portion of the dismissed workers.

In talks last Saturday, the sides were unable to reach a settlement, with the union demanding an immediate cancellation of the layoffs.

Following the breakdown of the talks, a representative of the creditors announced a plan to liquidate the company, thus forcing the two sides to engage in last-ditch talks to avoid liquidation.

In a phone interview with The Korea Times, Wednesday, Choi Byeong-hoon, spokesman for the creditors, said they have reached an accord that liquidating the firm was a better option than waiting until Sept. 15 a court-set deadline for the company's management to submit a self-rescue plan to avoid liquidation.

The occupation began when 36 percent of the workforce was dismissed. So far, the firm has sustained $243 million in losses.



14 years 8 months ago

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Submitted by Zanturaeon on July 31, 2009

Thanks for the daily updates. Please keep them rolling.


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Submitted by soyonstout on July 31, 2009

Does anyone know if there are any solidarity actions planned in the US? The city I live in does not seem to have a Korean embassy but the Korean embassy has an email address that people could send tons of emails to (I've heard that despite the seemingly reformist nature of that kind of campaign, it can actually be sort of a problem if it keeps them from wading through their email). It's here:

[email protected]

there's also the rank-and-file strike fund that Loren Goldner mentioned. Anything else we can do for brothers and sisters in Korea?


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Submitted by kbysf on July 31, 2009

July 31

The negotiation is continuing for 2days with several breaks(it started at 9:30am on July 30 and on going even after 1:00 am on Aug 1, Korea time)
Both sides agreed that this had to be the last conversation table and should get results, otherwise there will be 'disaster'.

The company and riot police seem less aggressive and try not to provoke violence but the company is still blocking drinking water.
The religious groups, medical people, labor/progressive party members and supporters keep sitting-in outside the factory.

The main issues discussed are :
1.Adjusting layoff number (so called 'voluntary retire')
2.Transferring workers to sales people (whether as Ssangyoung workers or not)
3.Building another company(subcontracting)
4.Unpaid, rotating furloafs(including non strikers or only strikers)

In the occupied factory, the regular workers and the casualized workers are fighting side by side together, and even non-laidoff workers are participating!
July 31, there was a press conference held in front of the factory by the 'ex-strikers' (around 30people) who had to leave the strike because of emergency (family member problems or physical condition) but wanted to come back to factory to fight for worker's right.
It is said that for 70 days of the strike, only 100 people out of 1000 or so left the strike and 30 or so people wanted to come back.

This strike is very complicated and crucial because it is not only capital-labor battle in one factory but also there's government's crucial role in it ( a government-run-bank Sanup Bank(Korean Development Bank) has responsibility for SSanyong's finacial problem, that's why from the beginning the union's main demand was the public funds / no layoffs). The government and the company are trying to fail the strike with terrifying violence and inhumane tactics but I hope our brothers' heroic fight will prevail.

"Transformer" a new special vehicle to repress riots unveiled in Seoul, Korea!
video click here


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Submitted by akai on August 2, 2009

Talks seem to have fallen through.

As Yonhap News reports, Park Young-tae, the senior manager at Ssangyong said "Barring any change on the part of the union there will be no further negotiations". He also said that 4600 workers will try to come to work, which may lead to a clash.

The occupying workers did not agree to a single job reduction. The bosses were offering to "keep" 40% of these people, but in reality offered unpaid leave to 30% and reassignment of 10% to sales jobs.