The retained employees of troubled Ssangyong have reportedly tried - unsuccessfully - to enter its Pyeongtaek factory occupied by laid-off workers.

The Korea Times reported that the workers came to the factory at around 8:30am, but the laid-off unionised workers kept the gates closed and surrounded the fence, wearing masks and armed with pipes.

Police reportedly stood guard to stop any possible physical collision between the two groups, and warned the dismissed workers against using the pipes as weapon, and throwing faeces.

``It is an illegal and systematic act of violence,'' said an executive of the carmaker. ``We urge the police to strictly investigate this violence and punish them in accordance with the law.''

Union workers began partial strikes in April in protest against the bankrupt company's plans to reduce staff by more than 2,500 and, on 22 May, stepped up the strikes and began an illegal occupation of the Pyeongtaek plant, bringing production to a standstill.

COMMENT: Ssangyong - action needed, quick