UCA News

Korea

Bishop climbs pylon to talk to strikers

Prelate calls for dialogue in long-running dispute with car maker

Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Support Asia's largest network of Catholic journalists and editors
Bishop climbs pylon to talk to strikers
Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon climbs up a pylon to speak to the two ex-workers
Share this article :

Bishop Matthias Ri Iong-hoon today visited two fired workers who have been staging a sit-in for the past 126 days on top of a power transmission tower near the Ssangyong motor plant in Pyeongtaek.

The bishop, who is president of the Korean Bishops’ Committee for Justice and Peace, urged the motor company and the local government to work urgently with the workers to resolve their long-running dispute.

The workers are demanding the reinstatement of all employees who were fired from the plant in 2009. 

Three workers initially climbed up the steel tower, which transmits 150,000 volts of electricity, but one came down on March 15 due to ill health.

“Their situation is not good.” said the bishop. “I mostly worry about their health as they have been up there for more than three months. If the dialogue starts, the two workers promised to come down. The Church will help it as far as possible.”

Bishop Ri, whose Suwon diocese includes the plant, added: “The workers, their family members and co-workers altogether are in despair. So far, 24 are dead after the Ssangyong labor conflict, and there should be no more deaths. Society should interfere to solve the situation."

Beset by financial difficulties, the company shed 2,645 jobs in 2009 following a 77-day worker occupation of the plant that ended in a police raid. The suicides of at least 23 workers or family members since then have caused an outcry in South Korea.

The company recently reinstated 455 workers who had been placed on unpaid leave. Some 150 workers who were fired after the dispute were not included in the reinstatement.

“I really appreciate Bishop Ri visiting us,” said Kim Jeong-woo, president of the Ssangyong trade union. “He seemed very unhappy with the scene.

“I hope no more deaths will occur. If there is one more, all of us will despair,” he added.  

Related report

New president told to solve labor issues

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter
 

Related News

Support UCA News

William J. Grimm, MM

Publisher

Union of Catholic Asian News

"As Pope Francis has said, we live not so much in an era of change as in a change of era. That is especially true in Asia and for the churches of Asia. UCA News is the dedicated, Asia-wide news and information service for the Church in Asia and we need your help to maintain the service."