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Hyundai Auto Workers End Their Takeover of Plant After 7 Days

January 22, 1992| Times Wire Services

ULSAN, South Korea — Workers abandoned their seven-day occupation of the giant Hyundai auto plant on Tuesday, slipping away in darkness in the face of a threatened police assault.

Inside the sprawling seaside plant, Hyundai Motor Co. officials found stacks of steel pipes abandoned by workers, piles of trash and smashed computers.

Police said management workers entered the plant at about 10 p.m. At midnight, helmeted riot police began tearing down the barricade at the main gate. There were no immediate arrests.

Some of the 12,000 police deployed in this port city 200 miles southeast of Seoul took up positions around the plant, while others were sent to the downtown area to prevent street protests today.

"The workers have all left. Now we have to make sure they don't return," a senior officer told his men in front of the main entrance to the plants in the southeastern city of Ulsan.

Militant workers took over the plant Jan. 15 after it was closed by the company following a union strike vote. The dispute began Dec. 17 when the union demanded a onetime bonus equal to 150% of monthly salaries.

It was unclear when the plant might resume operations, but a company spokesman said preparations are under way to restore normal operation.

During the standoff, workers blocked gates with new cars, trucks, tires and auto parts.

Earlier Tuesday, helicopters dropped leaflets into the plant telling workers they had until dawn to leave or face an attack by police, helicopters and armored vehicles.

The number of workers inside the plant then dwindled sharply. Union leaders maintained during the day that about 2,000 workers remained inside, but men were seen departing in small groups.

The facility, South Korea's largest auto plant, normally has 30,000 workers and can produce 1.1 million vehicles a year.

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