2012 Ssangyong Motors: Call for Support

Ssangyong Motors

National Association of Professors for Democratic Society

Call for your support.

5. Juni 2012


National Association of Professors for Democratic Society (NAPDS) is a national organization of which members consisted of about 1,000 progressive professors. NAPDS is founded in 1987 under the leadership of professors who protested against the military dictatorship in Korea and pursued democracy in Korea. Since then, NAPDS has been working diligently to advance democracy, progressive development, and social justice of Korea. Further, NAPDS is actively involved with global collaborative effort to enhance peace and justice internationally.

Last April, NAPDS sought for international solidarity to secure the peace in East Asian area and protest against Korean governments' unlawful construction of naval base in Gang-Jung of Jeju Island. During this effort, we issued a statement which was translated into four different languages including English, Japanese, Chinese, and German.

This time, we ask for your solidarity regarding the strike in Ssangyong Motors.

Ssangyong Motors, a Korean automotive company specialized in SUV, executed a massive layoff of 2,646 workers without any plausible reasons. Facing the Ssangyong workers' strike, the company promised that all the workers who took an unpaid leave would be reinstated within a year, which has never been fulfilled. Lee Myungbak administration, during the strike, mobilized helicopters and special police forces to suppress the workers and claimed billions Won of damage reimbursement and provisional seizure. Due to the stress and financial hardship, 22 workers and their family members have killed themselves or died of during the last 3 years.

The twenty-third death must be prevented. Your mail with "I sign" message delivered back to us will help the Ssangyong workers revitalize and keep themselves away from life and death situation and pressure the government and the company to make appropriate actions to resolve the situation.

We deeply appreciate your attention.
June 5st, 2012
National Association of Professors for Democratic Society

Reinstate all the laid-off Ssangyong Motors' workers with no reservation!!

Established in 1954, Ssangyong Motors is a Korean automotive company specialized in SUV. The automotive company is manufacturing Super Rexton, Korando C, the most well-known SUV of the company, and Korando-Sports, a SUT, and other luxury sedans such as Chairman H and W. Ssangyong Motors has settled in as a SUV-specialized automotive company but faced difficulties due to mismanagement and risky investment. In 2004, Ssangyong Motors has been acquired by Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), a China based and government owned automotive company. Apparently, the primary interest of the SAIC's acquisition was mainly in transferring technology that Ssangyong Motors has accumulated, not in stabilization of the company, which resulted in even severer difficulties that Ssangyong had to deal with. Ssangyong Motors laid off 2,646 workers in May 2009, and, then, was acquired by Mahindra, an India based automotive company.

From May 2009 to March 30th, 2012, 22 workers and their family members have been died of and/or committed suicide due to their deep desperation after the long-lasted strike that resulted in brutal suppression by special police forces. Yet, Ssangyong Motors and Lee Myungbak administration have made no efforts to improve the devastating condition.

The deaths of the Ssangyong workers and their family members should be taken as "social murder". Ssangyong Motors accused of their workers for the financial crisis due to its mismanagement so that executed a massive laid off of 2,646 workers on May 29, 2009 without any plausible reasons. The Ssangyong workers responded with a strike that lasted 77 days of bloody struggle and brought about "8.6 agreement" on Aug 6, 2009 stating "All the workers who take an unpaid leave will be reinstated within a year". However, the company has not fulfilled the agreement and, in reality, voided the agreement. In spite that the automotive company managed 16,745 million Won of operating profit with its sell out of 80,215 vehicles in 2010, it did not reinstate a single laid-off worker but announced a recruit of new employees. (The company sold out 112,281 vehicles in 2011 but insisted on an operating loss of 153,363 million Won.)

Lee Myungbak administration, the company, and conservative media applied physical, structural, and cultural violence to the workers and their families. Lee administration, during the strike, mobilized helicopters and special police forces to suppress the workers and turned the factory into a war zone. They utilized taser guns, which were prohibited for rally suppression, sprayed teargas concentrate up from the helicopters, threated workers lives by cutting water and power, and hindered injured workers from getting necessary medical attention including emergency aid for the severely wounded.

Making it worse, they even forfeited the medical insurance benefit of the workers who were severely injured due to the violence of police forces, and got rid of their last lifeline. The company and police forces made 300 workers criminals, arrested 96, and claimed over 8 billion Won of damage reimbursement and provisional seizure, and 11 billion of indemnity. Conservative media made their efforts on highlighting the extremist and violent sides of the Ssangyong workers, so that the laid off workers of Ssangyong were not able to be employed by other companies. Trauma earned from the bloody raid to the strike, devastating financial condition due to unemployment, stigmatization of the violent extremist and consequent difficulty in getting a new job, psychological stress, despair, and anger caused by oppression and no-response from the government and the company – these are the main causes that lead the Ssangyong workers to the verge of life and death.

Closer examination of the causes of the 22 deaths, 12 died of suicide, 6 of heart failure and sudden death, 1 of cerebral hemorrhage, 1 of diabetes, 1 of respiratory obstruction, and 1 of other cause. More than a half 22 workers killed themselves and, for the rest of them, the major causes of death were brain and heart disease of which major risk factors included extreme stress and/or psychological damage.

Those who are remained are also in overwhelming pain. One hundred and fourteen, 66% of all the laid off workers, are categorized as very high risk group due to their stress level and 50% of all the laid off workers are suffered from high level of depression.

Action must be made immediately. Only way to prevent 23th death is to reinstate all the laid off workers as soon as possible. Restoring them into their original work place is the only way to end this deadly march. We strongly demand the government and Ssangyong Motors to stop all the actions to drive the Ssangyong workers over the dead-end edge, and to make the immediate actions to open the door for the laid off workers to work at the place to which they originally belong, and to be paid for what they deserve.

• Ssangyong Motors fulfill the mutual agreement that promised the reinstatement of all the workers who take an unpaid leave!

• Mahindra come to the negotiation table to discuss the relief of the victims!

• The government issue an official apology to Ssangyong workers and act immediately to remedy the situation!

• The government stop immediately all the labor policies that are anti-union, pro-capital, and against human rights and people's democracy.

• Retract immediately all the claims of damage reimbursement and provisional seizure!

June 5th, 2012
National Association of Professors for Democratic Society