Police Enter Ssangyong Factory Occupied by Fired Auto Workers

Police stand guard under mobile shelters at Ssangyong’s factory in South Korea Monday. Fired workers at the plant had launched nuts and bolts in a protest.

SEOUL — South Korean riot police entered Ssangyong Motor Co.’s only factory Monday where hundreds of fired workers, some armed with slingshots, have been occupying part of the facility for two months.

Production at Ssangyong Motor, South Korea’s fifth-largest auto maker, has been paralyzed since May 22 because of a strike by workers opposed to major job cuts under a restructuring plan.

Riot police were being deployed “to carry out legal obligations in accordance with the court’s request,” said Cho Hyun-oh, the top police official in Gyeonggi Province, where the factory is located.

Lee Won-muk, a Ssangyong spokesman, said that 200 to 300 riot police were inside the factory grounds and more outside the main gate, though there had been no major clashes with the workers so far.

Yonhap news agency reported that about 3,000 police were deployed in total inside and outside the factory.

Some of the fired workers had earlier Monday used slingshots to launch nuts and bolts when a court official asked them to stop the protest, Mr. Lee said.

The factory is located in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

Ssangyong has been carrying out a major restructuring under bankruptcy to shed 2,646 workers, or 36% of its work force. Some 1,670 have left the company voluntarily though nearly 1,000 opposed the move. Some were later fired, Mr. Lee said. About 500 have been occupying the paint plant at the factory, said Mr. Lee.

Ssangyong, which filed for bankruptcy protection in January, is majority-owned by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., one of China’s largest vehicle manufacturers.

From the Wall Street Journal

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