Busan strike draws the disgruntled
The labor strife at Busan-based shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. is becoming a national cause celebre, as ordinary citizens and politicians flock to large demonstrations and demand the company go beyond a settlement reached with its union last month.
Last weekend, nearly 7,000 citizens, politicians and civic-group activists rode in 185 buses, which they dubbed “Buses for Hope,” to join a second large rally on Yeong Island off Busan. The rallies took place outside Hanjin’s shipyard on Yeong Island, which was barricaded by police.
Participants, many summoned by posts on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, paid 30,000 won ($28) to ride the Buses for Hope.
Democratic Party Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu visited the factory yesterday to urge the management to compromise more and to ask policemen not to repress workers or protestors.
“The labor issue at Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction has attracted people who are anxious about the current employment situation in Korea,” said Kim Yu-seon, chief of the think tank Korea Labour and Society Institute.
Roughly 1,100 Hanjin union members went on strike on Dec. 20 last year, five days after the company announced that 400 assembly-line workers would be laid off. In January, 110 of the 400 voluntarily quit, and 290 workers were fired. The company shut down the Yeong Island shipyard and two other plants in February, but striking workers occupied them.
The 190-day strike ended June 27 when the union signed an agreement with management and returned to work. The company agreed to give severance pay to all laid off workers. The shipyard is now operating and now 1,400 of the company’s workers are back to work.
But four fired workers and Kim Jin-suk, an official of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, weren’t satisfied with the agreement and didn’t leave the shipyard. They are now rallying inside and Kim has been protesting from atop a crane for 188 days despite an expulsion order from a Busan court. The rallies have been called to support Kim and the four fired workers.
Civic activists and other labor unions nationwide decided to stage rallies on the island and invited citizens nationwide to join. They brought about 500 people for the first bus rally from June 11-12. Kim Yoh-jin, an actress, was arrested on charges of violence and attempting to enter the factory, drawing public attention to the issue. She was released the same day.
At a second rally held last weekend, thousands of people - mothers, temporary workers, white collar officials and even social minorities such as lesbians - descended on the island not merely to support the laid off workers but also to speak out about their own poor working conditions.
Park Jeong-hui, a 27-year-old worker, said in an interview with Hankyoreh, “I think this issue is not just for workers in Hanjin, but for all of us who are weak and could be fired anytime.”
Mun Ae-rin, a 31-year-old woman suffering from cerebral palsy, said, “Although the strike at Hanjin is not relevant to me, working conditions for people with disabilities is worse than for normal workers. In this sense, their problem is my problem.”
Gweon Gi-hong, a 23-year old university student, said, “Unless the country’s working conditions aren’t improved, the suffering of Hanjin workers could be ours after graduation.”
The least sympathetic Koreans are residents of the island off Busan.
“I have been washing away the stink [left by demonstrators] all day, but the smell never disappears,” said Kim Seong-ho, a 45-year-old resident of Yeong Island.
Eo Yoon-tae, head of the Yeongdo District in Busan, said at a press conference Wednesday that he couldn’t stand the rallies that have descended on the city.
“When the second Buses for Hope rally was held over the weekend, traffic was paralyzed and residents are tired of cleaning up the mess,” Eo said. “I don’t want the buses to come [to Yeongdo District] anymore.”
Je Jong-mo, a Busan city council member, said, “The buses are not for hope, but for desperation. It’s not right for any third party to be involved in an agreement made between management and labor union members.”
According to the district office, about 7,000 demonstrators threw away 30 tons of trash near the factory, including 100 placards and 1,000 bricks, which were to climb the police’s barricades.
About 500 current workers staged a rally Wednesday at the front gate of the shipyard, calling the demonstration “inappropriate interference of a third party”.
Despite opposition from the company and local residents, a third bus demonstration will be held July 30. Roughly 30,000 people will attend, according to organizers.
By Kim Hee-jin, Chang Chung-hoon [firstname.lastname@example.org]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
“희망버스 아닌 절망버스 … 오지 마라”
부산 단체장들, 3차 행사 강력 반대
허남식 시장 “노사 합의 … 개입 안돼”
13일 부산시 영도구 봉래동 로터리 주변 도로. 곳곳에 벽돌이 쌓여 있고 지린내가 진동을 한다. 주민 김성호(45)씨는 “하루 종일 물로 씻어냈는데도 악취가 가시지 않는다”고 말했다. 민주노총 등 60여 개 단체들로 구성된 ‘정리해고·비정규직 없는 세상 만들기’와 야당 정치인들의 대규모 주말시위가 지나간 한진중공업 주변 모습이다. 부산시 영도구는 2차 희망의 버스가 다녀간 뒤 11, 12일 이틀 동안 공무원과 주민들을 동원해 펼침막 100개와 쓰레기 30t을 치웠다.
한 달 안에 3차 희망의 버스가 온다는 소식에 부산지역 사회가 크게 반발하고 있다.
허남식 부산시장과 제종모 시의회 의장, 신정택 부산상공회의소 회장, 어윤태 영도구청장 등 부산지역 인사들은 이날 오후 부산시청 에서 기자회견을 열고 “희망의 버스는 오지 말라”고 요구했다. 허 시장은 “노사가 합의를 한 이상 노사에 맡겨야지 더 이상 외부세력이 개입해서는 안 된다. 부산지역 경제가 어려워지고 시민불편이 가중되지 않도록 도와달라”고 말했다. 어윤태 영도구청장은 “희망의 버스가 지나간 뒤 뒤처리를 지휘하면서 ‘이거는 아니다’라는 생각이 들었다. 11개 동 주민자치위원장들이 모여 ‘영도구민이 봉이냐, 또 희망의 버스가 오면 가만히 있지 않겠다’라고 결의를 다지고 있다”고 전했다. 제종모 부산시의회 의장은 “말이 희망이지 절망의 버스다. 노사가 합의했는데도 외부에서 개입하는 것은 잘못이다. 정치인들은 국회에 계류된 9000여 개의 법안이나 처리하라”고 목소리를 높였다.
한진중공업 노사는 4일 결의대회를 연 뒤 1400여 명의 임직원이 정상 조업을 하고 있으나 회사 내 크레인에는 김진숙(50·여) 민주노총 부산지역본부 지도위원과 해고근로자 4명 등 5명만 점거농성을 하고 있다. 한진중공업 노사는 정리해고를 둘러싼 대립으로 190일간의 총파업·직장폐쇄에 들어갔다가 지난달 27일 협상을 타결했다.