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Mahindra's Ssangyong reinstates workers fired in 2009

By Graeme Roberts | 17 September 2018

Tivoli proved a hit and Ssangyongs saviour

Tivoli proved a hit and Ssangyong's saviour

Mahindra & Mahindra's SsangYong Motor has reinstated workers sacked nine years ago, the Korea Herald reported.

The automaker promised more exports after launching three new models set for release next year, the paper added.

The report said management, labour union and the Korea Metal Workers' Union had agreed the reinstatement of 119 assembly workers sacked in 2009 when then largest shareholder SAIC Motor pulled out. The agreement ended nearly 10 years of conflict which had become a social and political issue.

"We will enter overseas markets Australia and Europe on three new models launched next year. Amid a difficult situation, we have invested KRW400bn (US$357m) annually in new vehicle development and facilities," SsangYong Motor CEO Choi Jong-sik said.

The three models are a successor to the Korando C SUV code-named C300, a petrol C300 and a longer Rexton Sports pickup.

Australia sales through the company's first national sales company (NSC) start in Australia in November. Previous Antipodean sales have been through independent importers.

At least 30 fired employees have died since they were dismissed in 2009, the Korea Herald said.

Korean politicians had urged Anand Mahindra, executive chairman of Mahindra Group, which owns over 70% of SsangYong Motor, to reinstate the former auto workers.

In June 2009, SAIC Motor fired 2,600 employees after filing for court receivership

Angry members of the labour union staged a sit-in for 77 days at the factory in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, which was dispersed by a special police squad.

In the process, some 100 related officials were arrested, including SsangYong Motor's union leader Han Sang-kyun. 

Some 1,700 workers chose voluntary resignation and 454 unpaid leave, while 165 workers who refused both options were fired. 

Mahindra Group purchased SsangYong Motor in November 2011, and in 2013 it reinstated the 454 workers who had been sent on unpaid leave.

A total 118 laid-off workers have been put back to work between 2016 and this year, and the latest decision to reinstate the remaining 119 former workers puts an end to the plight, the paper said. 

SsangYong Motor said its compact Tivoli SUV, launched in 2015, put it back on track, spearheading demand in the local compact SUV market, and sold 63,693 units in the first year.