South Korean police commandos stormed the roof of a car factory paint shop occupied by hundreds of sacked workers in a battle with management over a company survival plan.
POLICE STORM OCCUPIED CAR PLANT
YTN television showed footage of today's raid at Ssangyong's Pyeongtaek factory, which came after commandos stormed other buildings yesterday in a bid to end a stand-off that has threatened South Korea's fifth-largest car maker with insolvency.
The footage showed a helicopter moving a black shipping container ferrying commandos on to the roof amid resistance by helmet-wearing workers fighting back with sticks. Commandos also fired water cannon from the container as it was suspended above the roof.
Ssangyong has been in court-approved bankruptcy protection since February amid falling sales and mounting red ink. Troubles have deepened in the past two months with hundreds of dismissed workers occupying the factory's paint shop - said to be packed with flammable materials - to protest at massive redundancies.
The flammable materials have raised fears of an inferno if there is a full-blown police assault.
Workers have used slingshots and Molotov cocktails against approaching riot police, who have responded by dropping tear gas from helicopters.
Estimates by police and Ssangyong have put the number of people occupying the paint shop at up to 600, though some have given up in recent days.
Ssangyong said between 500 and 540 people were still occupying the shop after about 100 gave up on Sunday and another 17 yesterday.
The factory is in the city of Pyeongtaek, 45 miles south of Seoul.
Union spokesman Lee Chang-kun said yesterday that a police assault on the paint shop would be deadly.
"We will respond to it, bracing ourselves for death," he said.