By Power of Working Class (PWC) - Korea
From the struggle against layoffs to the struggle for the Kim DJ regime´s resignation
March 19, 2001
Dear comrades and friends,
The Power of the Working Class would like to express the warmest thanks for your recent solidarity message to the Daewoo struggle.
The PWC has been an integral part of this fight, having been a key driving force behind the Joint Struggle Committee (a coalition of 25 organisations, including the Daewoo union, metalworkers federation and the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions), the organising of actions on the ground, and building solidarity with the dismissed workers.
The Daewoo struggle has been an important part of the ongoing fight against the Kim Dae-jung regime´s rolling neoliberal offensive against working people. The Daewoo struggle has nakedly exposed the ruthlessly anti-worker character of the Kim DJ regime and has, in fact, ignited a wider struggle for its resignation. On March 17, some 5000 students and workers from a range of unions mobilised in the centre of Seoul for a rally and march against the Kim DJ regime and the selloff of Daewoo Motors. They later regrouped at nearby Dong-guk University and were confronted by thousands of riot police. Intense fighting broke out as the workers and students successfully held off the cops for several hours before dispersing. Presently, there is much discussion among the forces of the working people´s movement for how to further organise and carry forth this important fight. As it continues, it will also meet with struggles that will erupt during the annual springtime wages bargaining and as the regime sets its eyes on the next targets, the public and finance sectors.
Many of the 1,750 laid off Daewoo workers continue to organise at the San-gok Church to fight for their reinstatement and for an end to mass layoffs. Many student and people´s organisations remain at their side as they rally daily, clash with the police and continue to reach out to the workers still employed at the Bupyong factory.
Although the factory was reopened on March 7, the crisis at Daewoo Motors remains serious. Fearing worker resistance inside the factory, the company and regime have deployed thousands of cops along every part of the assembly line. These cops eat with the workers and watch over their every move. It´s a state of siege.
Meanwhile, in his recent visit to the US, Kim DJ met with the head of General Motors to reassure him that Daewoo Motors is now a secure investment. If GM buys Daewoo, the Bupyong factory will face further layoffs and eventual closure. The implications for the rest of the South Korean auto industry is also deadly: the world´s largest carmaker will use any and every means to drive South Korean competitors to the wall amidst the crisis of massive overproduction and overcapacity in the international auto industry.
This represents yet another step in South Korea´s emergence from the confines of "national development" and incorporation into the global capitalist crisis. But this is also the objective impetus for further awakening internationalism in the South Korean workers´ movement, a movement that continues to shed its own straitjacket of "national development", imposed by decades of repression and international isolation at the hands of successive military regimes.
Your message has played a part in this process, helping to raise consciousness of the fact that we are part of a worldwide struggle and that we have an international role to play in our fight here in South Korea.
Long live working class internationalism!
General Secretary, PWC