Hyundai is suing violent protestors

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Hyundai is suing violent protestors

After a temporary worker protest turned violent over the weekend, Hyundai Motor Company filed a lawsuit yesterday against 13 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, including its head, Shin Seung-cheol.

At around 7 p.m. on Saturday, about 300 “Bus of Hope” protesters, including union members and temporary workers from Hyundai’s Ulsan factory, rallied at the facility calling for the company to make their positions permanent. They clashed with Hyundai officials and began breaking fences to get into the factory.

Some protesters swung iron pipes and long bamboo poles at officials who were blocking them with plastic shields and fire extinguishers. When the dust had settled, 82 Hyundai officials, about 20 protesters and 11 riot police were sent to nearby hospitals.

Hyundai said they are also considering filing a separate lawsuit for damages incurred during the rally.

The Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency, which is handling the case, yesterday formed an investigation team composed of 53 police officers. It said they will first arrest seven protesters based on evidence that includes CCTV footage secured from the factory. They are also scouring visual resources collected by the media in their probe.

“Such illegal, violent protests are unacceptable,” an Ulsan police spokesman told reporters. “It doesn’t matter if the people committing the violence are company officials or protesters. We will uncover all irregularities that happened at the Hyundai factory.”

The protestors released a press release stating that the company had never responded to their demand for negotiations. “We have consistently requested that the company negotiate on the temporary worker issue,” they claimed. “But the answers we received were water cannons, iron pipes and fire extinguishers. It made our people upset, and they wielded some flagpoles.”

Ulsan police have come under fire for their failure to prevent the violence. The two groups began clashing at 7 p.m., but police only began breaking it up at 8:20 p.m., after dozens were already injured. The Public Security Department of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office also says it will pursue everyone who attacked police and officials, going on to declare that it’s also considering rejecting permission for further Bus for Hope rallies.

BY CHA SANG-EUN, KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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