• Union leader does deal with receiver in one-on-one meeting
  • Fewer workers to be made redundant
  • Production resumes within three weeks
  • 14,600 vehicles lost to strike

Unionised SsangYong Motor workers finally ended their 77-day strike and emerged from a barricaded paint shop yesterday after police action to dislodge them turned the factory into a war zone.

Ssangyong court receivership manager Park Young-tae and union leader Han Sang-kyun met yesterday and reached an agreement over the number of workers to be laid off, solving the main issue over which the two sides had disagreed, the Korea Herald reported.

Talks resumed after striking union members approached Ssangyong, saying that the union had made important changes to its position on the company’s lay off plans.

The change of union stance came as riot police prepared to move in, after earlier using helicopters to lower officers into parts of the plant and to spray strikers with liquid tear gas, taking over all buildings surrounding the paint shop the protesters were occupying.

One-on-one talks between Park and Han lasted 78 minutes with the two sides reaching a general agreement about the company’s restructuring plans.

Less than two hours after Park and Han emerged from the converted container, workers holed up inside the painting facility voluntarily ended their strike.

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

Ssangyong estimated it had sustained 316bn won (US$258.6m) of plant damage and lost production of about 14,600 vehicles due to the strike.

Under the agreement reached on Thursday, the company will retain 48% of the 640 workers who took part in the strike until the end. Those staying on will be placed on unpaid leave for a year, after which they will be put to work according to the situation at that time.

The remainder will be made redundant. The company will also pay a 550,000 won monthly subsidy for one year to workers transferred to sales positions.

After the union demanded the company drop various charges against the strikers, Ssangyong said it would work to lighten the criminal charges and would drop civil suits against them on condition its revival plans are accepted by bankruptcy court next month.

The company added that vehicle production facilities needed for producing cars had not been damaged and that output would resume within three weeks at the latest.

Earlier report of settlement