Ssangyong Motor Update-escalating violence and injury of sit-in strikers

Urgent update below (attached)

Yesterday, the company goons ripped apart the shelters of solidarity supporters encamped outside the plant and arrested KMWU Vice President WOO, Byeong-kuk at the scene. When the news of the all-out raid spread, a swell of workers and students kept streaming to Pyeongtaek and spontaneous rallies began with first 100, then 200, then 600-700 . Right now supporters are peacefully marching to the plant and some two dozen are being arrested with police firing water cannons on the march.

Currently, we have hundreds of injured sit-in workers with some extremely serious injuries such as spinal cord injury (from falling off roof of building when SWAT team began chasing the workers on the roof), from rubber bullets, taser gun shocks, and a fire broke out in the buildling next to the paintshop building. An all-out raid on a paintshop with hundreds of thousands of liters of flammable chemicals is incredibly risky and an excessively violent way to end the dispute ; it is deliberately putting the lives of our union members at risk

Please call on the Korean government to
- to call off this extraordinarily dangerous raid!
- and participate in negotiations over alternatives to dismissal and a future for the plant .

Our union members’ lives are at stake.
- Any international solidarity actions should be taken in front of the Korean Embassy now (no more Ssangyong dealerships)
- Any diplomatic pressure on the South korean government to stop this extraordinarily dangerous raid, to stop denying the sit-in strikers food, water, proper medical attention, electricity (they are treating each others wounds by candlelight) etc would be appreciated
- Please send us photos of your action so we can let the workers inside the plant know

in solidarity,

Korean Metal Workers’ Union

4 August (Tues)

Yesterday (as in IMF article) the police made an all-out effort to storm the paintshop, precipitating tensions with clashes sparked throughout the factory. They began with helicopters dropping liquid teargas concentrate at 5 am dawn as hundreds of riot police began banging their shields on the ground and shouting chants up at the workers on sit-in.

Photos (not reproducedhere)

Below left and middle: police and management-hired private security forces throw rocks at sit-in strikers on the roof as helicopters drop tear gas and water cannons shoot.

Below right: helping firefighter put out fire on top of bodyshop 1 building (where private security forced had been)

Over 100 persons were injured today.

Far left: hit by teargas concentrate chemical

Near left: other injuries and trying to patch people up in evening despite electricity cut off

The company managers and goons attacked the solidarity supporters and tore apart our tents outside the plant

(police just watched)

5 August (Wednesday)

Today, police helicopters dropped two containers of SWAT team members onto the roof of the assembly plant building (adjacent to paintshop). They began to rush out and assault union members who were on the roof of the assembly line building.

See Hangyoreh Newspaper reporter video: _

Two union members who were being chased by SWAT team members on the roof of the assembly building fell off the building and plummeted to the ground. A fire broke out in the assembly line building which is connected to the paintshop building by third floor walkway.

We are afraid the fire could spread to the paint shop.

- One of the union members who plummeted to the ground during this operation has head, neck and back injuries, particularly to vertebrae 3 and 4.
Second one has injuries to arms and legs

Photo: Media Chungcheong

- Another union member (in his early 40s) was shot directly in the head and lost consciousness. He woke up in the hospital needing 20 stitches to his head. The doctor believes he was shot at close range with a rubber bullet.

- Another union member (in his late 30s) was dodging water cannon fire, and let his wooden shelter (used as shield) spread open a little and was promptly hit in the chest with a large nut with enough force to cause a fracture in his ribs

Union member injuries:

- Electrical shock by taser gun
- Shot by rubber bullet fired by what police call a “multipurpose launcher”
- Head split open
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injury (falling off building roof)
- Riot police boots and curmudgeon and sharpened edges of riot police shields

Some injured members were taken to the hospital.

Doctor at Anseong Hospital said that patients are in critical condition requiring hospitalization.

But riot police arrested the patients and dragged them to police station for questioning briefly having open wounds stitched together.

Meanwhile the company forces (goons and private security forces) rushed out of the plant around 9 am to clear out the union supporters encamped in front of the plant.

They began beating people with wooden sticks and steel pipes, pulling people away from the group of supporters and ripping apart our tents again.

Management thugs raid the solidarity encampment in front of the plant

And destroy union vehicles

(smashed doors and windows of KMWU van)

When student movement came to our aid, the company forces backed off and the riot police cleared out the students with teargas-laced water cannons.

The raid is ongoing.

Korean Metal Workers’ Union members are hanging in there and the strike-attacking forces have been unable to enter the paintshop 2 building (the union offices are on the 3rd and 4th floor of the building, the paintshop is on the 1st and 2nd floor).

We already have a near comatose union member with spinal cord injury, a fire in the assembly line building and we have no water for fire-fighting purposes (much less for drinking or washing).

The fact that the Korean government is even attempting this raid at all in spite of the extremely dangerous situation is excessive if not lethal behavior. The continued denial of food, water, proper medical care is an ongoing human rights violation.

The non-State actors (private forces directed by the company) have no authority to use force much less beat women and unionists on the sidewalk outside the plant.

We desperately need ILO to make some second letter or call or some kind of intervention asking Korean government:

— to call off this extraordinarily dangerous raid!
- and participate in negotiations over alternatives to dismissal and a future for the plant .

Our union members’ lives are at stake.

- Any solidarity demonstrations taken as international solidarity action should take place in front of the Korean Embassy with the above two demands.

- We also appreciate it if you use any other diplomatic channels possible to ask the Korean government to stop the raid and participate in or foster negotiations

Please send us photos of your action so we can let the workers inside the plant know ! ! !

No specific license (default rights)