Last-minute talks end Ssangyong strike

Striking workers at Ssangyong Motor Co. ended their 77-day strike yesterday after the management and union leaders reached an agreement over the layoff plans in last-minute negotiations. Ssangyong court receivership manager Park Young-tae and union leader Han Sang-kyun met for last minute talks yesterday and reached an agreement over the number of workers to be fired, solving the main issue the two sides have disagreed over.

The talks were resumed after striking members of Ssangyong’s union approached the company, saying that the union has made important changes to its position on the company’s lay off plans. The union made the move as riot police, after taking over all the buildings surrounding the paint shop where unionists had been occupying Wednesday, were ready to move in.

The labor-management negotiations, which had failed early Sunday morning, were reopened at noon in the makeshift conference room in a container placed between the Pyeongtaek plant’s main building and a painting facility.

The one-on-one talks between Park and Han lasted one hour and 18 minutes, with the two sides reaching a general agreement about the company’s restructuring plans. Less that two hours after Park and Han emerged from the converted container, workers holed up inside a painting facility voluntarily broke the strike.

Although the details of the agreement had not been announced, an insider was quoted by the Yonhap news agency as saying that the two sides agreed on plans to fire 52 percent of the workers originally laid off. Those remaining will be placed on unpaid leave. The company’s PR department, however, said that the figures have not yet been set and that plans were being reviewed.

In the negotiations that ended Sunday, Ssangyong management put forward a plan that would have seen 60 percent of the workers laid off at the beginning made redundant with 40 percent going on unpaid leave.

The sit-in strike began on May 22 in protest of the company’s restructuring plans that would have seen 36 percent of its workers made redundant.

According to the company’s estimates, it has sustained 316 billion won ($258.6 million) damages and about 14,600 vehicles in lost production due to the strike.

(cheesuk@heraldm.com)

By Choi He-suk

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