Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hyundai Motor contract workers taken into custody

Hyundai Motor contract workers taken into custody*

Scores of non-regular workers of Hyundai Motor (factory in Ulsan) were taken into custody Monday during a heavy clash with riot police in a rally to demand formal employee status with the country's largest automaker.

More than 300 unionized contract workers were staging a protest in front of their factories in this city, 414 kilometers southeast of Seoul. Riot police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators after a series of physical confrontations, but the workers reassembled at another factory building and were continuing their protest, according to witnesses.

And here's yesterday's news report by AFP:

Twenty injured in clash at Hyundai car factory

South Korea's top automaker Hyundai Motor said Monday that 20 people were injured in a violent protest by hundreds of temporary workers.

The company said 20 of its permanent employees were injured in an attempt to drive out temporary workers who have occupied an auto plant in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

Riot police used tear gas to end a violent protest by hundreds of temporary workers inside and outside the factory and detained 50 demonstrators, Yonhap news agency said.

Some temporary workers were injured, it said.

The dispute began when a contractor took over the company's car seat production. Temporary workers have refused to sign contracts with the new company, demanding formal employee status.

South Korea has an estimated 5.3-million "non-regular" or temporary workers, whose bosses are unwilling to employ them on a permanent basis, which would give them greater rights.

The union of Hyundai Motor's full-time workers has a history of militancy, going on strike almost every year since its establishment in 1987.

But in 2009 it had its strike-free year in a decade and a half after union leaders promised to help it ride out the global downturn. The union also agreed a wage deal in July 2010, marking its second year without a strike.

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