Johannes.Schneider at SPAMgmx.net
Tue Feb 20 06:25:35 MST 2001
>From AFP via Yahoo Singapore:
Tuesday February 20, 7:39 PM
Fiery battle for Daewoo car plant
INCHON, South Korea, Feb 20 (AFP) -
Daewoo Motor Co. workers battled security forces for a second day Tuesday in
a critical showdown between the government and unions over the bankrupt
The government also urged General Motors Corp. (GM) back to takeover talks
for Daewoo Motor after Monday's tough crackdown on unions protesting the
On Tuesday, angry workers, hurling firebombs, burnt one police vehicle as
some 2,000 protestors tried to march on Daewoo Motor's Pupyong plant in the
western city of Inchon.
Thousands of riot police stormed the plant on Monday night, ending an
occupation by hundreds of laid off workers inside.
"We will turn Pupyong into a sea of flames until we take back control of the
Pupyong plant," a union leader shouted as protestors, including women and
children, headed toward the huge factory compound.
But thousands of riot police kept the demonstrators about 20 metres (yards)
away from the plant and eventually dispersed them.
Two security police were evacuated from a blazing bus before violent
protesters set fire to the vehicle and smashed its window with steel pipes.
The violence followed a noisy rally in front of Pupyong railway station
where unions angrily condemned the government of President Kim Dae-Jung for
its economic reform policies.
Some 4,000 riot police stormed the plant on Monday night to end unions'
three days of a sit-in protest against redundancies. The protest has become
a symbol of labor resistance to Kim's reforms.
The raid ended the occupation by some 400 workers protesting against the
dismissal of another 1,750 workers by Daewoo Motor, which has now shed 6,884
employees, a third of its domestic workforce.
"It was inevitable for the workers. We have to overcome the pain together
and cooperate with each other," the President was quoted as telling a
cabinet meeting Tuesday, defending the mass layoffs.
Shin Kook-Hwan, minister of commerce, industry and energy, followed the
labor crackdown by seeking to give a new spur to hopes of selling Daewoo
Motor to GM and its Italian partner Fiat SpA.
"As the government lays the groundwork for Daewoo Motor's normalization, I
expect GM to come out to resume the talks by the end of this month," he
Creditor banks also started giving new loans, suspended because of the
labour dispute, to the troubled carmaker Tuesday following the police
action, promising 104.2 billion won (83 million dollars) this month.
Police said they had detained 84 Daewoo Motor workers but were still hunting
Kim Il-Sup, the union leader who led the protests.
Thousands of riot police have been deployed around the plant since Monday
with hundreds standing guard at each entrance and key points inside, while
company officials inspected damage after the battles.
The Pupyong plant has been idle since Monday last week when the company
decided on a three-week shutdown to reduce costs and stocks of unsold cars.
Workers at Daewoo Motor plants in Kunsan and Changwon staged a partial
strike Tuesday in protest against the police action.
The workers, armed with steel pipes, had earlier clashed with riot police,
leaving some 20 unionists injured, union officials said.
Analysts had warned that the longer the Daewoo Motor unrest lasted the less
likely it would be that the carmaker would be able to tempt General Motors
and Fiat into a takeover deal.
The automaker has been in crisis since the collapse of the Daewoo Group in
August 1999 with 80 billion dollars of debt.
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