Corea, República de - Strike and occupation in Yoosung factory (2012)

On 24 May, 500 strikers staging a sit-in at the Yoosung Enterprise factory in Asan, which manufactures piston rings for Hyundai, Kia, Renault and General Motors in South Korea, were dispersed by around 3,000 riot police. The majority of strikers were arrested. According to the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU), this is part of a general union busting strategy applied by the company.

In 2009, an agreement was signed with the KMWU on the elimination of the night shift. However, successive talks had not resulted in implementation of the agreement. In May, a vote was taken to begin industrial action and on 18 May, the union held a two hour strike with daytime shift workers. Later that day the company announced a lockout against the local members and some 30 assailants surrounded the factory and tried to prevent night shift workers from entering the site. With the help of their day shift colleagues the workers managed to enter the factory. The same night, unknown assailants drove a minivan from a company “specialised in industrial dispute and tenant eviction”, into a gathering of workers injuring some 13 workers.

A union busting plan by management was also discovered which sought to induce a strike, impose a lock-out and blockade the factory provoking violence and subsequent repression by police at the factory. The workers remained in the factory until the police dispersed them on 24 May. In June, some 11,000 unionised workers of Yoosung Enterprise attempted to enter its main plant in Asan. They were rebuffed by police. During the clash, 108 riot police and about ten unionists were injured. The unionised employees have been trying to enter the plant en masse since June 15, insisting that all of them should be given their jobs back. However, Yoosung management has been preventing them from doing so, demanding unionists return to work on an individual basis in order to screen out union leaders. The plant has been operated by non-unionised workers since 24 May.

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