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Labor activist faces arrest

Kim Jin-suk, a labor activist who staged a sit-in protest for 309 days atop a giant tower crane at a local shipyard, faces arrest on charges of trespassing and obstruction of business.

The Busan Metropolitan Police Agency said Friday that they plan to seek an arrest warrant for the female activist and three others who participated in the crane-top rally to protest massive layoffs by Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co.

Kim climbed down from the 35-meter-high crane on Thursday after Hanjin workers approved a compromise deal with the management, ending their 11-month-old battle against layoffs.

For the 309 days, the female labor leader did not touch ground, relying on food and basic necessities sent by her supporters on the ground. Upon the descent, she was taken to a hospital for medical checkups.

The dispute at Hanjin began in December last year when the company announced a plan to lay off some 400 workers. Unionized workers staged a strike for nearly six months to protest the layoffs and the management responded with a lockout.

The labor dispute has become a social issue, bisecting liberal and conservative civic and political groups. Thousands of protesters marched through Busan in what they called the Hope of Bus rallies, demanding the management of Hanjin reverse the layoffs. Some protesters clashed with police, resulting in many arrests.

Under the deal approved Thursday, the company will rehire 94 laid-off workers within a year and pay then 200 million won ($176,000) each in compensation. During the months-long struggle, some 306 of the 400 who initially faced layoffs retired voluntarily.

By Lee Sun-young (
catch table
Korea Herald daum