Monday, January 24, 2011

Busan Crane Protest Enters Its 25th Year

A man who climbed a crane after being laid off in 1986 by Hanjin Heavy Industries marked the beginning of his 25th year of protest yesterday quietly, while authorities continued their debate on how to end the protest. 51 year-old Kim, who was just 26 when his job was one of those eliminated as part of a series of cutbacks within the company, demanded that workers be reinstated until unions and management agreed a deal over the controversial redundancies.

Labor negotiations over the issue have been increasingly complicated in recent years due to significant numbers of workers and senior management who have retired since the original redundancy plan was implemented. Kim is believed to be still insisting that all the workers who were fired be permitted to return to work, a demand thought to be impractical due to the large number who have died since losing their jobs. Kim’s former union boss, 76 year-old Kim, was even flown to Busan from Jeju Island to tell Kim that the 1980s labor conflict was over, but he refused to come down, shouting that it was a management trap. Kim has said that if the military government tell him to climb down for the good of the nation he will do so, but so far he has received no such order, adding to his belief that the generals in Seoul are secretly sympathetic to his plight.

In the early months of the protest, it had been hoped that Kim would eventually be starved out from his position 131 feet above ground, but he hasn’t required food yet due – according to his wife - to the large amount of kimchi he ate before climbing the crane 25 years ago. He is believed to be rationing some further supplies of kimchi he carried up with him, and drinking rainwater he has been seen to be collecting.

Kim says that once he gets his job back, he intends to immediately go on strike to protest over other issues which have arisen in the company since 1986.

Related Links
Lofty protest
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