South Korean strikers hold firm as commandos attack
from the morning star newspaper (UK)
Wednesday 05 August 2009- Helicopter-borne police commandos have fought a pitched battle with militant strikers at a South Korean car plant, but failed to dislodge hundreds of trade unionists occupying a paint shop.
At least 50 people, mostly police and private security guards, were injured in the day's clashes.
The assault began when hundreds of commandos stormed the roof of one of the factory's two paint shops by descending from a black shipping container carried by a helicopter, while others rappelled down a rope from another helicopter.
Helmet-wearing workers, who have been occupying the plant for over two months, fought back with sticks and threw objects at the truncheon-wielding police.
Commandos also fired water cannon from the container as it was suspended above the roof while another 300 riot police launched a ground assault.
At least 500 workers withdrew to the second paint shop, which was reportedly packed with inflammable material.
The commandos eventually managed to wrest control of the rest of the compound, but authorities acknowledged that the occupation is far from over.
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions spokesman Lee Chang Kun warned that a police assault on the paint shop would be deadly.
"We will respond to it, bracing ourselves for death," Mr Lee declared.
Workers launched the occupation after Ssangyong bosses sought to impose a restructuring plan which calls for the shedding of 2,646 workers, or 36 per cent of the workforce.
Some 1,670 have left the company voluntarily but nearly 1,000 went on strike and kicked off the direct action in May.
Below news footage of the police, beating detainees.
August 6, 2009
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