The workers of the Sanken Korea sub-branch of the Metalworkers’ Union, Gyeongnam Branch (member of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) have announced an end to their dispute with Sanken. A full 742 days after Sanken Electric, the Japanese parent company of Sanken Korea, staged its fake-dissolution fire-all-workers attack in July; after tent sieges in Changwon and Masan; after a further 148-day tent siege in Seoul, and a seventeen-day sit-in at the APTC office; and after a fourteen-day hunger-strike sit-in; the union has finally won a labor agreement, and ended the dispute.
The exact contents of the agreement have not been made public. But the Sanken Korea sub-branch members themselves have released a written “position statement”, in which they say that “our twelve union members have fought a dispute against powerful capital that was backed up from Japan, and left behind a valuable result from the fight–one which, though it cannot truly be called a victory, can absolutely never be considered as a defeat.” This one sentence contains the myriad of emotions of the workers themselves. We believe with all our hearts that, first of all, these should be accepted and honored.
Support in Osaka
We discussed what we could do, here in Osaka, to fight in support of the Sanken Union in Korea. First of all, thirty-three willing unions, sharing the desire to raise their voices, came together. On December 4, 2020, they held demand actions for the first time at the Osaka office of Sanken Electric, saying “Withdraw the fake dissolution! Down with mass firings!” However, Sanken refused to hear our demands at all, the height of insult. Then the following year, starting in April of 2021, we held protest actions once every month, gathering in front of Sanken Electric’s office in Osaka to continue raising our angry voices. Along the way, we progressed from being “a group of willing unions” to taking action in the name of Osaka Union Network.Ideally we should have gone back and forth across the Straits to deepen solidarity between workers in Japan and Korea. But since this dispute began amid the pandemic crisis, we could not have as much of this contact as we hoped. There was some frustration felt in the concrete ways of fighting. But even so, we were greatly encouraged by hearing from Korea of each turn in the brave fight put up by these workers.
Sanken Korea Members to Visit Japan!
Three months after the dispute’s protagonists declared it to be at an end, there will finally be a chance for us to meet them face to face. On October 3, starting at 6:30 P.M. at L-Osaka, there will be an exchange and report meeting with the workers of Sanken Korea Sub-Branch themselves, who will be visiting Japan. We invite everyone who gave their hearts to ending the Sanken Electric dispute and to worker solidarity to take part in this gathering.