600 workers have been occupying the paint shop at the Ssangyong Motor plant in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, for over two months to protest over massive job cuts that are part of a restructuring plan.
The company had planned to sack 36% of the workforce.
Gas, water and food supplies to the paint shop were cut off ten days ago and riot police have surrounded the plant and are threatening a massive raid on the factory to evict the workers.
The police have dropped tear-gas using helicopters and are working alongside company-hired thugs armed with baseball bats and martial arts weapons.
The workers have used large catapults to fire nuts and bolts at police attempting to evict them.
Last weekend 7000 supporters marched to the plant in an attempt to force through police lines and deliver water to the workers inside the factory. That attempt failed in the face of police violence. Thirty workers were arrested as workers used bamboo sticks and metal bars to defend themselves from the police.
The workers’ union is part of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The KCTU has responded to the threat to the occupation by calling a two-day general strike: “the strike must continue strongly and indefatigably, despite whatever sacrifice and pain that may come in our way, because this July battle will decide the fate of workers — will all workers continue to live as slaves of capitalists or will workers be guaranteed their livelihoods and full basic labour rights?”