A VIOLENT 77-DAY STRIKE brought by SsangYong factory workers has drawn to a close today, after the manufacturer agreed to halve the number of layoffs in an upcoming company restructuring.
The factory, which had been turned into a virtual warzone as workers barricaded themselves inside and clashed with South Korean police, is expected to return to production in the coming weeks.
The compromise between management and workers will see 48 percent of the factory?s workers retained, and SsangYong officials have said that striking workers will not lose their jobs for having taken part in the protests.
"My wife, my father, my mother-in-law all called my cellphone and urged me to give up and come out," Ham Bong-deuk, a SsangYong factory worker, said after the strike ended.
"We could not wash. We smelled. Cockroaches and mosquitoes thrived. Some workers gave up and left.
"But the more the company squeezed our human rights, the more resolved those who remained became," he said.
The planned layoffs were a part of SsangYong?s restructuring plans, after the company filed for bankruptcy protection in January, leading to some 2000 voluntary redundancies in the months since.
Production of SsangYong vehicles is expected to recommence within three weeks, said Lee Yoo-il, the court-appointed manager of SsangYong?s restructuring.
Suppliers owed money by SsangYong are expected to withdraw claims filed earlier this week, in hopes that the strike?s end will see SsangYong return to a position that will allow suppliers to reclaim some of the payments owed.
Despite the end to the violent strikes and the factory returning to production, the South Korean carmaker?s future remains in question.
"The outlook for Ssangyong remains very dark as the company does not have a clear schedule for a new model," Michael Sohn, an auto analyst at Woori Investment & Securities, told Reuters.
"Its sales to Europe are also falling as its cars do not fit environmental regulations there."
SsangYong revealed its C200 Aero and C200 Eco concepts at this year?s Seoul Motor Show, but production dates had not been confirmed at the time. It is unclear when, or if, the C200 will make it to market.