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Automaker reinstates 455 workers

Ssangyong employees suspended in 2009 back under job-share deal

Automaker reinstates 455 workers
The president of Ssangyong Motors (right) and president of its Labor Union at the signing of the agreement to reinstate suspended workers.(photo courtesy of Ssangyong Motors)

The country’s smallest automaker, Ssangyong Motors, has agreed to reinstate 455 workers it placed on unpaid leave back in 2009 following a bitter industrial dispute.

The company and its labor union agreed to reinstate the workers yesterday. They are expected to be back on the production line from March 1.

"Our management and labor unions reached an agreement on the reinstatement of all workers who are on unpaid leave," said Ssangyong Motors in a statement.

"We have sought the reinstatement as part of our efforts to expand our production and share social pains and create jobs,” it said.

Beset by financial difficulties, the company shed 2,645 jobs in 2009 following a strike which saw workers stage a 77-day occupation of the plant in Pyeongtaek that ended in a police raid in August of that year.

Of that number 1,900 quit voluntarily, 455 were forced to take unpaid leave of absence, while the others were either fired or transferred.

Many of the workers have since complained of depression, psychological illnesses and other problems. The suicides of at least 23 workers or family members since then have caused an outcry in South Korea.

“The company said the situation was still not ideal for reinstating the workers, but we could not leave our colleagues out in the cold any longer. So, we decided to make room for them through job sharing,” said Lee Kyu-baek, communications director of the Ssangyong Motor Labor Union.

“We will keep fighting hard for the other [fired] workers to come back to our company,” he told

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