“Shame on you, President Lee Myung-Bak!” This was the chant of workers belonging to the Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL) as they rallied in front of the South Korean embassy in Makati to denounce the brutal response of the SK government to the strike of more than 800 South Korean workers of Ssangyong Motors.
Yesterday, hundreds of police commandos once again tried to storm the factory occupied by the workers after police helicopters sprayed liquid tear gas on the workers. The operation reportedly left dozens of people injured with 23 sent to hospital for treatment.
“The South Korean government has shamefully displayed its atrocious attitudes towards workers when it turned the strike area into a war zone,” Jose Apollo Ado, APL spokesperson, said. “We condemn this despicable disregard for the fundamental rights of workers whose only crime is to defend their jobs,” he added.
The protesters demanded an immediate end to all police operations and called on Myung-Bak government to ensure the resumption of negotiations between the union and the management.
The strike stemmed from the breakdown of negotiations between the union and the management as the company announced mass dismissals.
Yesterday’s assault is just the latest atrocity perpetrated by the Lee Myung-Bak government. Since July 16, the police have blocked all food from entering the factory. On July 19, medical doctors and nurses were stopped from entering the compound despite the fact that hundreds of workers have suffered broken bones and skin problems from the spraying of corrosive chemicals used by the police in their repeated assaults.
More than 3,000 riot police and around 30 vehicles including water cannons, ladder trucks and helicopters have been mobilized since the start of the stand-off.
“We demand that medical care, water and food be provided to all the striking workers,” Ado, said. “We also demand that all legal charges, including financial, civil and criminal offenses, against the striking workers and their supporters be dropped,” Ado added.
The APL action is in support of the Global Day of Action coordinated by Asian Transnational Corporation Monitoring Network (ATNC). The ATNC is a network or more than 37 organizations, trade unions and social movements across Asia.