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Agreement at Hanjin Heavy Industries

11 November, 2011After 11 months of stalemate KMWU and the management of Hanjin Heavy Industries agreed on November 9 on an end to the dispute about mass dismissals at the Korean shipyard.

KOREA: 94 dismissed workers will be rehired within one year, and their years of service will be recognized. The dismissed will also receive a compensation of 20,000,000 Korean won (18,000 US$) each for the one-year suspension period (the workers will have to withdraw their class action lawsuit and unfair labor action suits against the company). The union and company management will also drop all criminal and civil charges and damages claims against each other.

The KMWU union at Hanjin Heavy Industries started its strike on December 20, 2010 after the company announced plans to lay off 400 workers. The company then obtained 230 "voluntary resignations" among the dismissed. In the end 170 workers were fired. Some of these accepted the company's severance package, but continued to support the KMWU and hoped for reinstatement.

Kim Jinsuk started her sit-in protest on the top of the giant shipyard "Crane 85" on January 6. On November 9 she will have been 308 days atop the crane.

The Korean National Assembly recently made a conciliatory proposal, and urged the company to reinstate 94 laid-off workers within a year, with compensation. Hanjin Heavy Industries Chairman Cho Nam first accepted the proposal. Also KMWU responded positively, and on October 11 the two sides met to iron out remaining issues, such as dropping criminal lawsuits against Kim Jin-suk and recognition of years of service for reinstated workers. The company however stalled, and on October 20 walked out of the negotiations.

A provisional agreement between KMWU and Hanjin Heavy Industries was finally reached November 9 at the company headquarters on the lines of the conciliatory proposal of the Korean National Assembly. KMWU negotiators were KMWU President Park Sang-chul, KMWU Busan-Yangsan Regional Branch Chair Mun Cheol-sang and KMWU Hanjin Heavy Local Chair Cha Hae-do.
The same day Hanjin Havy workers were briefed of the provisional terms at the gates of the shipyard. KMWU then planned a workers' assembly for the members of the KMWU Hanjin Local to consider the agreement and vote on it. On November 10, the provisional agreement was passed unanimously, and Kim Jinsuk came down from the crane. She is currently in the hospital to recover from her ordeal.