Hanjin Heavy union endorses agreement
Published : Nov 10, 2011 - 20:00
Updated : Nov 10, 2011 - 20:00
A prolonged labor dispute at Hanjin Heavy shipyard finally came to an end on Thursday, after workers approved a deal reached a day earlier between union leaders and the management.

In a unanimous decision, unionized workers of Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. approved the compromise deal, which calls for the company to rehire 94 laid-off workers within a year.

Following the endorsement, labor activist and former Hanjin worker Kim Jin-suk came down from a giant tower crane at the company’s Yeongdo shipyard in Busan, where she had staged a sit-in protest since Jan. 6.

She had never touched ground since she climbed the 35-meter crane. Now she faces police investigation on charges of business obstruction and trespassing.

The dispute at Hanjin began in December last year when the company announced a plan to lay off some 400 workers. Unionized workers staged a strike for nearly six months to protest the layoffs and the management responded with a lockout.

The labor dispute has become a social issue, dividing liberal and conservative civic and political groups. Thousands of protesters marched through Busan in what they called the Hope of Bus rallies, demanding the management of Hanjin reverse the layoffs. Some protesters clashed with police, resulting in many arrests.

Under the deal approved Thursday, the company will pay 200 million won ($176,000) in compensation to each of the 94 dismissed workers. During the 11-month struggle, some 306 of the 400 who initially faced layoffs decided to retire voluntarily.

By Lee Sun-young (