Another former Ssangyong Motors worker committed suicide .. KMWU “18th death”

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of an article appeared in an online media <OhmyNews> on November 9, 2011, reporting the 18th death of current or former Ssangyong Motors workers. All rights of this post stay with the author of original article or <OhmyNews> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. Original article (in Korean) of this post will be located by the link at the bottom.

Another worker of Ssangyong Motors where massive restructuring had been executed committed a suicide. In Ssangyong Motors, totally 18 workers and their families killed themselves from April 2009 until now by stress-borne diseases and suicides.

According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MoEL) and Korea Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU), Mr. Yoon (46) a Ssangyong Motors current employee found hanged dead on a hill behind Ansung service area of Busan direction Kyoungbu highway around 3PM on November 8. Mr. Yoon had been missing since October 29 and his body was found during the investigation by Ansung police missing persons squad. MoEL announced that Mr. Yoon, single, had worked in press production team since joining Ssangyong Motors in 1990.

An MoEL official said “his death seems to be a suicide but no will was found. Mr. Yoon was an introvert and awarded two citations for faithful work records.” An KMWU official said “Mr. Yoon’s death is 18th incident since Ssangyong Motors’ massive restructuring. We are currently investigating if Mr. Yoon’s death is related to the restructuring.”

Beforehand, in 10th last month, Mr. Kim (35) a voluntary retiree of Ssangyong Motors was found hanged dead in his home. Mr. Kim was known to experience economic hardships since he had voluntarily retired in 2009. In 5th last month, Mr. Goh (40) a Ssangyong Motors Pyoungtaek factory employee was also found dead in his car from lethal inhalation out of burning coal briquettes. Mr. Goh was known to suffer household debts, going through personal debt restructuring procedures.

◇ “80% of Ssangyong Motors laid-off workers suffer depression” = Ssangyong Motors incident started when company, to alleviate managerial hardships, announced a plan to layoff 2,646 employees, 37% of total workforce, on April 8, 2009. At this, union started general strike occupying all Pyoungtaek factory and company countered this by locking out the facility. A fierce confrontation started right away.

In particular, the factory where union members and police, union members and non-union employees confronted against each other turned into a battleground where privately made guns, slingshots firing bolts and nuts, iron pipes, tasers were rampant; hundreds of people were injured at this.

The whole incident was wrapped up when company and union agreed to maintain employment of 48% (468) of those in the final layoff list (974) after 77 days of lock out strike. However,voluntary retirees are still suffering economic hardships such as tuition fees of private institutions, education funds, apartment loan payments, living expenses and those still working in the factory are also known to suffer from aftereffects.

In last April, Korea Confederation of Trade Unions, after surveying 193 Ssangyong Motors laid-off former workers, revealed a study report that 80% of all respondents were showing symptoms of higher than middle level of depression requiring psychological consultation.

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