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Hyundai Files Police Complaint Against Clash Activists

A pair of gloves lay on the halted assembly line at the Hyundai Motor Co. plant during a strike by the company's labor union in Ulsan on July 13, 2012. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg
A pair of gloves lay on the halted assembly line at the Hyundai Motor Co. plant during a strike by the company's labor union in Ulsan on July 13, 2012. Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea’s largest automaker, filed a police complaint against 13 activists it says led a violent clash at its biggest assembly plant that left 82 employees injured.

The three-hour dispute on July 20 between activists from the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella group of labor unions, and Hyundai security guards and managers caused about 2.2 billion won ($2 million) in damage, the Seoul-based carmakers said in an e-mail yesterday. About 100 people were injured in total, the trade union said on its website.

Union workers at Hyundai, the subject of periodic wage protests including an August 2012 walkout that the company estimates to have cost a record 1.7 trillion won in lost production, weren’t part of the brawl. Some members of the group tried to use force to enter the plant in Ulsan, throwing bamboo sticks and stones at security personnel, who used fire hoses to keep them at bay, the automaker and labor body said.

The company filed a complaint to Ulsan district police yesterday for obstruction of business and acts of violence, the company said today in an e-mailed response to Bloomberg. The police will begin an investigation, according to a policewoman at the Ulsan station, who asked not to be named, citing official policy.

“We are closely monitoring the situation,” Jeong Ho Hee, a spokesman for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, said by phone today when asked about the complaint.

The activists demanded Hyundai convert all 6,800 of its temporary workers, hired by subcontractors, into regular employees to enjoy better benefits and pay. The carmaker said in December it will convert 3,500 workers by the first half of 2016, an offer that was rejected by the union.

Third Party

“The incident was triggered by a third party which doesn’t help the company or the non-regular workers’ union trying to reach an agreement on the issue,” said Lee Sang Hyun, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities Co., who recommends buying Hyundai shares. “Although it has a negative impact on investor sentiment, the issue won’t lead to big production losses as the number of workers involved is few and they can be replaced.”

Hyundai shares were unchanged at 222,000 won in Seoul trading today. The benchmark Kospi index climbed 1.3 percent.

Some executive members of Hyundai’s union, which represents the regular workers, took part in a separate gathering organized by the labor body on the same day the brawl broke out, Kwon Oh Il, a spokesman at the carmaker’s union, said by phone yesterday. The attempted forced entry into the plant was a separate event and no Hyundai union member was involved, Kwon said.

The trade union group should halt illegal activities and resolve the situation through talks, the Federation of Korean Industries, the nation’s largest business lobby group, said in an e-mailed statement.

Ulsan, located on South Korea’s southeastern coast, is an industrial center and home to major factories and shipyards, according to the Korea Tourism Organization’s website.

Six calls to the union representing Hyundai temporary workers weren’t answered.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rose Kim in Seoul at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at

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