The labor and management groups of South Korea’s fourth-largest automaker Ssangyong Motor Co. have reached an agreement to reinstate all 119 workers who were laid off during the company’s 2009 restructuring, raising hopes a nearly decade-long labor dispute that has weighed on the company would come to an end.
Representatives from Ssangyong Motor management and labor union, Korean Metal Workers’ Union’s Ssangyong Motor branch, and the Economic Social and Labor Council on Friday tentatively agreed that Ssangyong Motor management will rehire 60 percent of 119 laid off workers by the end of this year and the remaining by end of June next year.
Following the agreement, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union’s Ssangyong Motor branch decided to halt all rallies and sit-ins against the management and remove related equipment and banners. The branch said it will not raise criminal and civil actions against the company unless it violates the latest deal.
With the latest development, Ssangyong Motor would be able to focus more on its operations after it has been grappling with protracted disputes with former workers who were sacked in 2009 when the company was placed under court receivership.
During the company’s restructuring nine years ago, the company asked 900 workers to choose either unpaid leave or voluntary retirement and fired those who refused to choose either option. That decision has resulted in years-long labor disputes that have often marred the company’s operations and became social issues with some laid-off workers committing suicide, demanding for their job reinstatement.
After Indian auto giant Mahindra-Mahindra took over Korea’s smallest carmaker in 2011, it vowed to settle the issues regarding workers who involuntarily left the company.
In 2013, 454 workers who had chosen unpaid leave were all reinstated, but 165 first workers were not allowed to come back. In 2015, the company and its union agreed to gradually reinstate the fired workers after a series of negotiations.
Following the latest agreement to rehire all 119 fired workers, the Economic Social and Labor Council, a presidential advisory body has decided to introduce support measures after discussions with related ministries for business normalization and to reduce cost burden on the company to cover up for the reinstated workers.
The council also plans to introduce additional government support measures for the carmaker’s steady growth. Detailed action plans will also be discussed further by a shared growth committee consisting of representatives from management and labor groups.
By Kang Young-woon and Lee Eun-joo
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]