Ssangyong factory operations begin; workers respond with fire bombs
4 August 2009

South Korean police commandos have stormed the Ssangyong plant in South Korea.

The plant, 45 miles south of Seoul, is besieged by workers, who have been occupying the factory in protest against job cuts for two months.

The estimated 600 workers responded to the police action by setting light to cars in the factory and throwing fire bombs.

The raid on Ssangyong's sole assembly line followed weeks of tension that has seen workers use slingshots and molotov cocktails against riot police, who have responded by dropping tear gas from helicopters.

Police say they have occupied several out-buildings during the raid. Reports suggest 80 commandos entered the plant, supported by three police and two fire helicopters.

However, the focal point of the tension is the plant's paint shop. Workers are using this as a base, and police are reluctant to force access as it is packed with highly flammable materials.

There have been no reports of any injuries.

The riots were sparked by Ssangyong seeking to reorganise after entering bankruptcy protection. As part of the restructuring, 2646 workers, or 36 per cent of the work force, is being axed

Ssangyong says 1670 workers have left the company voluntarily but nearly 1000 have refused to leave.

Company management has threatened to dissolve the company if the situation isn't resolved imminently, potentially leaving all the workers without jobs.

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