Mon, Aug 10, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Police seeking to arrest 44 over Ssangyong violence

AFP , SEOUL

South Korean police said yesterday that they were seeking the formal arrest of 44 people over a strike at Ssangyong Motor that ended last week after a marathon and violent standoff.

Police last week brought 96 people in for questioning, mostly Ssangyong workers who had occupied their factory for 77 days in protest at layoffs. Of those, 52 were released at the weekend, police in Gyeonggi Province said.

“Arrest warrants have been sought for the remaining 44, including 41 Ssangyong workers, for having used violence and obstructed business or official duty,” a Gyeonggi police spokesman said.

The spokesman said police asked local court judges late on Saturday to issue the arrest warrants and hoped to receive them today. That would clear the way to the formal prosecution of the 44, who are still being held for questioning.

Police have already arrested another 23 people over the violence at Ssangyong Motor in Pyeongtaek, 70km south of Seoul.

Ssangyong strikers on Thursday agreed to a redundancy deal after a massive police raid. More than 100 people were hurt last week as strikers battled riot police with giant catapults, firebombs and steel pipes.

Police commandos on Wednesday launched a helicopter raid on the factory, stepping up pressure on striking unionists who were cornered in a paint shop full of inflammable thinner.

Under the deal, roughly half of about 970 workers who had refused to accept redundancy would be allowed instead to take an unpaid long-term leave of absence.

Ssangyong, South Korea’s smallest automaker, received court protection from creditors in February in exchange for a turnaround plan that calls for massive layoffs and cost savings.

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