Ssangyong Motor Threatens to Use Police to End Strike

Workers occupying the factory are demanding managers minimize job losses through work-sharing.

Struggling South Korean car firm Ssangyong Motor said on Jun 3 it would call in riot police to end the occupation of its plant by striking workers unless they disperse by early next week.

Thousands of workers armed with metal pipes and firebombs have been occupying the carmaker's plant at Pyeongtaek city, 70 km (44 miles) south of Seoul, since May 21 to protest a massive job-cut plan. Workers occupying the factory are demanding managers minimize job losses through work-sharing.

Ssangyong, which has been under court receivership since February, plans to cut 36% of its workforce, or 2,646 workers, as part of restructuring. But if the strike continues the bankruptcy court will not approve the restructuring plan and this would force the company into liquidation, Lee said.

"Unless striking workers disperse voluntarily by Monday, we will take all possible legal action," Lee Yoo-Il, one of the two court-appointed managers supervising the automaker's bankruptcy process, said. "This means we will call in riot police," he said.

Because of the occupation over the past two weeks, the already insolvent automaker was unable to produce 3,793 vehicles worth 82 billion won ($US66 million), the company said. The country's smallest carmaker, Ssangyong specializes in sports-utility vehicles and luxury sedans.

The debt-stricken company in February won court protection from creditors. The court told its Chinese majority owner, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, to give up management control. Court-appointed managers have since struggled to turn the company around through job cuts and cost savings.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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