Union members at Ssangyong Motor, the country’s smallest carmaker, almost brought down by a strike and violent sit-in last month, has voted to leave a progressive umbrella union.


About 73% of 700 eligible voters, including absentees, favoured the disaffiliation from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).


Ssangyong is the first carmaker in Korea to take such action, the Korea Times noted.


Some union leaders claimed the voting was invalid because of technical issues, but the majority of  members agreed to break away from the KCTU.


“When labour disputes erupted, the KCTU blindly pursued confrontation, leaving no room for negotiations,” a Ssangyong worker said. “We are fed up with that.”


The vote reflected a schism among union workers as a result of the crippling two-month sit-in protest at the factory which ended only when most of the union leaders were taken into police custody, strengthening the voice of management led by two court-appointed legal guardians.


The result will also likely help the Seoul Administrative Court okay the company’s self-rescue plan that must be submitted by next Tuesday.


Despite daily reports that sounded like they were emanating from a war zone, the factory suffered little damage to production equipment and managed to get back into operation soon after the siege ended last month, though not before incurring multi-million dollar production losses.


The withdrawal also dealt a blow to the KCTU leadership, and could encourage other unions to follow suit.