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by Matt Brogan

Hundreds of fired workers at Ssangyong Motors yesterday abandoned their 77-day-long occupation at the manufacturer’s paint factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, after the labour union and management struck a compromise deal on layoffs.

At the union’s request, final negotiations began at noon inside a container located in the “peace zone” between the headquarters building and the paint factory.

According to Ssangyong, the company suffered 316 billion won (US$258 million) in losses because it failed to produce 14,590 vehicles on schedule and, faced with an acute credit crunch, Korea’s smallest vehicle manufacturer filed for court receivership in February and in April made public a plan to lay off part of its workforce.

Protesting the decision, Ssangyong’s unionised workers occupied the company’s paint factory on May 22, paralysing company operations. Despite the union’s protest, management decided it was still necessary to lay off 976 workers on June 8. Negotiations over the workers’ fate then broke down on June 19.

While talks eventually resumed on July 30, tensions escalated rapidly inside and outside the plant as violent clashes between striking and non-striking workers erupted.

Yesterday’s talks were seen as a break through decision and, with the paint factory not as severely damaged as first thought, Ssangyong officials concluded they would be able to resume production as soon as the end of the month.




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