Hyundai strike after suicide attempt
Hyundai Motor’s Ulsan plant was hit by a labor stoppage yesterday after workers walked off the engine line after a dramatic self-immolation attempt by a worker over the weekend.
Around 2,200 employees on the engine assembly line walked off the job at 1 p.m. yesterday afternoon.
“We decided to halt the engine line production because the management didn’t accept our request that it punish whoever is responsible for making the worker try to burn himself to death and also for the chief executive to publicly apologize,” the company’s union said.
The union also said it will reject overtime work requests for all assembly lines in the Ulsan plant.
On Sunday, a 44-year-old worker surnamed Shin attempted to burn himself to death on the factory line and is currently in critical condition at a nearby hospital.
The police are investigating his attempted suicide.
Shin, who worked on the engine line, tried to burn himself at around noon on Sunday.
The police found an eight-liter (2.1-gallon) plastic bottle filled with volatile material and a lighter but no suicide note.
The union claimed that Shin attempted suicide because “the company hindered him from participating in union activities” and “told Shin to not leave the workplace [for union activities].”
The company’s management said it has “the right to tell its employee to not leave the workplace.”
The company also said there was a low possibility of management responding to the union’s requests “since the police investigation is in progress.”
“The production halt is clearly an illegal act,” said an official from Hyundai Motor, noting that the union ignored normal procedures before going on strike.
The stoppage is expected to have a serious impact on the country’s largest automaker’s production if it continues for long.
In the short term, the company said it has enough engines to avoid a production pinch.
Hyundai Motor’s management and union have been on good terms, with no walkouts for the past three years.
Last year, the automaker’s sales increased 12.3 percent compared to the previous year, mainly on overseas demand.
By Lee Eun-joo [email@example.com]
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