May 2011, Week 4


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Wed, 25 May 2011 23:19:02 -0400
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3,000 Police End Sit-In At Hyundai Factory

    Workers Pushed For Better Pay, Shift Patterns

From Yoonjung Seo For CNN 
May 25, 2011


SEOUL, South Korea

More than 3,000 riot police were sent in Tuesday to
break up a weeklong sit-in protest by workers at a
large engine components manufacturer for major South
Korean automakers.

Five hundred employees had been occupying the Yoosung
Enterprise factory in Asan, about 90 kilometers
southwest of Seoul, since Wednesday. After more than 10
rounds of negotiations, agreement could not be reached
over wages and shift patterns.

"The decision to dispatch police officers was made
after reports of illegal actions were received, such as
physical conflicts between members of the company and
union which resulted in injuries," the provincial
police said in an announcement.

The two-hour intervention was completed "without strong
resistance by union workers and there were no injuries
on either the police or the union side," said Hong
Deok-ki, a police officer at the scene. Images from the
scene showed protesters lying on the ground, forcing
police to pick them up.

Concerns were raised by South Korea's automakers that a
prolonged work stoppage could seriously threaten the
operations of all five automakers as well as their
5,000 suppliers of other parts.

Hyundai-Kia Motors, which gets 70% of its piston rings
from Yoosung, was heavily affected by the strike and
claimed it would have faced a production loss of 48,000
cars by the end of May. After the police intervention a
public relations officer at Hyundai Motor Company said
the company "expects losses to be reduced when Yoosung
resumes its production."

The Korea Employers Federation welcomed the move by the
police as "the proper measure to prevent huge economic
damage in the local auto industry by illegal occupation
of production lines by union workers," it said in a
written statement.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, however,
called it "savage violence" and promised "to hold the
government responsible and support the workers at

Yoosung is expected to be able to restart its
production as early as Wednesday.

Copyright CNN 2011


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