Hope bus ride (2)

Obviously, workers’ union who had cut a deal with company against unilateral massive layoff after a fierce strife in Feb. 2010 (less than a year before they went on another strike) saw the whole thing from a diametrically opposite way. Why the union dose not trust company? Usually, workers’ union dose not trust their counter part but, at least in this case, the union seems to have some tangible reasons.

In year 2010, Hanjin closed a shipyard at Ulsan, another southeastern manufacturing hub city in Korea after laying off 3,000 and forcing other 300 manufacturing workers to retire. Then, they moved remaining production workers to shipyard at Youngdo, Busan. Of course this is why the union went on to strife against company early 2010. At Youngdo shipyard, company shed 270 as voluntary retirement and fired other 172 (Feb. 15). This really provoked workers badly. During the course, a welding lady Jinsook Kim (51) who has worked at Hanjin for 25 years went up a tower crane #85 and has locked herself up there since Jan. 6 (163 consecutive by the time of this blog posting), demanding the withdrawal of massive layoff plan, in particular, the 172. This lady becomes the center piece of “hope bus” story!

By the way, why the company is acting like that, dumping all production workers and closing shipyards in Korea? Did they stop making ships? No! In fact, it’s ship building business is still booming, maybe more than before. But from different parts of the globe. Subic Bay, Philippines. Hanjin already setup a shipyard at Subic Bay, Philippines in 2008 and, by 2010 and it scored 29 new orders already (17 bulk carrier, 4 tankers, 8 container ships). Obviously, the company is moving all ship building bases from Korea to Philippines and is dumping all former employees in the course. (In fact, the union insists that company intentionally didn’t take new orders for Youngdo shipyard and even moved planned workloads to Subic Bay yard.)

All right. The whole thing seems to indicate that Hanjin tried to fold whole shipbuilding business in Korea and push forward for restarting shipbuilding business overseas where labor cost is much lower than Korea (and, at the same time, much higher profits for shareholders and executives) instead.

Another obvious question: then, what about workers in Korea? And their families? They will lose all their jobs forever. Is this OK? Is this legal? What did company do for the workers?

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