• Police descend on plant from helicopters

  • Protesters out of all but one building

  • Creditors file to declare SUV maker bankrupt

A second raid on Ssangyong Motor’s plant in Pyeongtaek today (5 August) saw police finally gain control of most of the buildings, leaving hundreds of protesters isolated in their paint shop stronghold.

Officials held off from invading the isolated building until Thursday, wary of inflammable substances kept inside, the Korea Herald reported.

The police again sent special troops into the plant in the early morning. The clash resulted in a fire and injuries to police and protesters. Over 30 union members were hurt, one of them said to have serious spinal trauma, the union claimed.

Gyeonggi Provincial Fire and Disaster Headquarters said 46 Ssangyong employees and over 30 police officials were injured.

The police landed on plant roofs using container boxes lifted by cranes, officials said. The assembly plant was retaken by 10am followed by a paint shop secured by commandos who descended from helicopters.

The police shot rubber bullets randomly at the protesters, the union claimed. They fought back with slingshots, metal pipes and petrol bombs, causing a fire that had to be put out from helicopters. Three of the protesters fell from the four-storey building during the battle.

“One of them is in a critical condition, due to loss of blood,” a union member told the Herald.

“We have not set a deadline for our operations, and will take our time in moving into the remaining paint shop building,” National Police Agency chief Kang Hee-rak told reporters. “Security should, at all times, be considered the most important factor in our operations.”

Officials promised good treatment for those who voluntarily left the building by Thursday. Union workers condemned the police moves as inhuman because the police would not allow food or medical workers into the building, despite the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission.

Ssangyong creditors on Wednesday filed for the company’s bankruptcy in court, saying the company and the union had exhausted all options.