SSANGYONG WORKERS APPEAL FOR SUPPORT –under massive paramilitary attack

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Korean SWAT police team members landed onto the roof of the Ssangyong assembly line building chase workers occupying the building in defence of their jobs
Korean SWAT police team members landed onto the roof of the Ssangyong assembly line building chase workers occupying the building in defence of their jobs

STOP Brutal Raid against the

Ssangyong Motor Workers!

Our Union

Members’ Lives are at Stake!

TODAY [Thursday, August 6th] company goons ripped apart the shelters of solidarity supporters encamped outside the plant and arrested Korean Metal Workers Union Vice-President Woo Byeong-kuk at the scene.

When the news of the all out raid spread, a swell of workers and students kept streaming to Pyeongtaek and spontaneous rallies began with first 100, then 200, then 600-700. Right now supporters are peacefully marching to the plant and some two dozen are being arrested with police firing water cannons on the march.

Currently, we have hundreds of injured sit-in workers with some extremely serious injuries such as spinal cord injury (from falling off the roof of a building when a SWAT team began chasing the workers on the roof), from rubber bullets, taser gun shocks, and a fire broke out in the building next to the paintshop building.

An all out raid on a paintshop with hundreds of thousands of litres of flammable chemicals is incredibly risky and an excessively violent way to end the dispute; it is deliberately putting the lives of our union members at risk

Please call on the Korean government

• to call off this extraordinarily dangerous raid!

• to participate in negotiations over alternatives to dismissal and a future for the plant .

Our union members’ lives are at stake.

• Any international solidarity actions should be taken in front of the Korean Embassy now (no more Ssangyong dealerships)

• Any diplomatic pressure on the South korean government to stop this extraordinarily dangerous raid, to stop denying the sit-in strikers food, water, proper medical attention, electricity (they are treating each others wounds by candlelight) etc would be appreciated

In solidarity,

Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU)

Korean Confederation of Trade Unions(KCTU)

Further, the police made an all out effort to storm the paintshop, precipitating tensions with clashes sparked off throughout the factory. They began with helicopters dropping liquid teargas concentrate at dawn, 5am, as hundreds of riot police began banging their shields on the ground and shouting chants up at the workers on sit-in.

Today, police helicopters dropped two containers of SWAT team members onto the roof of the assembly plant building (adjacent to paintshop). They began to rush out and assault union members who were on the roof of the assembly line building.

Two union members who were being chased by SWAT team members on the roof of the assembly building fell off the building and plummeted to the ground. A fire broke out in the assembly line building which is connected to the paintshop building by a third floor walkway.

We are afraid the fire could spread to the paint shop. 

• One of the union members who plummeted to the ground during this operation has head, neck and back injuries, particularly to vertebrae 3 and 4.

Second one has injuries to arms and legs

• Another union member (in his early 40s) was shot directly in the head and lost consciousness. He woke up in the hospital needing 20 stitches to his head. The doctor believes he was shot at close range with a rubber bullet.

• Another union member (in his late 30s) was dodging water cannon fire, and let his wooden shelter (used as shield) spread open a little and was promptly hit in the chest with a large nut with enough force to cause a fracture in his ribs

Union member injuries thus far:

• Electrical shock by taser gun

• Shot by rubber bullet fired by what police call a ‘multipurpose launcher’

• Head split open

• Broken bones

• Spinal cord injury (falling off building roof)

• Riot police boots and sharpened edges of riot police shield wounds

Some injured members were taken to the hospital.

A doctor at Anseong Hospital said that patients are in critical condition requiring hospitalisation.

But riot police arrested the patients and dragged them to a police station for questioning, briefly having their open wounds stitched together.

Meanwhile the company forces (goons and private security forces) rushed out of the plant around 9am to clear out the union supporters encamped in front of the plant.

They began beating people with wooden sticks and steel pipes, pulling people away from the group of supporters and ripping apart our tents again.

When the student movement came to our aid, the company forces backed off and the riot police cleared out the students with teargas-laced water cannons.

The raid is ongoing. 

We desperately need the ILO to write a second letter or call for some kind of intervention asking the Korean government:

• to call off this extraordinarily dangerous raid!

• and participate in negotiations over alternatives to dismissal and a future for the plant .

Our union members’ lives are at stake!

We are relying on you – please help!