Workers in South Korea respond to mass redundancies with strike action

Workers at South Korean automaker Ssangyong Motor went on strike on Thursday in protest at plans for mass layoffs to save the firm from bankruptcy.

Submitted by Ed on May 25, 2009

Assembly lines at its plant in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, stopped at 1:30pm, said union spokesman Lee Chang-Geun.

"Management should come to talk with the union on avoiding the proposed massive job cuts," Lee said, adding that the duration of the strike would be decided Friday.

Debt-stricken Ssangyong in February won court protection from creditors. The court told its Chinese majority owner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), to give up management control. Court-appointed managers have since struggled to turn the company around through job cuts and cost savings.

The programme calls for the sacking of 2,646 workers or 36% of the workforce, in what would be the country's first mass layoffs since the onset of the global economic crisis in September. The programme also proposes the firm take out a new bank loan of 250 billion won (200 million dollars) by offering its factory as collateral.

Union leaders representing 7,100 workers immediately rejected the job cuts and demanded managers minimise sackings through job-sharing.

Ssangyong, which specialises in sport-utility vehicles and luxury sedans, posted a net loss of 709.7 billion won last year on sales of 2.5 trillion won. In the first three months of this year, its sales nosedived 76% to 6,471 units. SAIC still holds a 51% stake in the firm.



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Submitted by Zanturaeon on May 25, 2009

Thanks Ed!

Is there potential for this to spread? Do workers at this plant have a history of militancy?