The national police chief ordered his men today to crush violence by striking workers. Street fights with riot squads were reported in several cities.
Six affiliated companies of Hyundai Heavy Industries in the southern industrial city of Ulsan were to resume operations Thursday. They reached a truce with 40,000 striking workers Tuesday through government mediation. (Story, Page 7.)
Figures from the Trade and Industry Ministry said labor unrest cost the country $420 million in lost production and $163 million in export losses from July 25 to Aug. 17.
Police chief Kwon Bok Kyung declared: "Police forces will be used to stop promptly any violent protests outside work places, and all those involved will be arrested."
He said police would increase efforts to identify any "outside forces" instigating strikes that have swept the country for weeks in demand of higher wages, better working conditions and free unions.
Police have accused dissident groups of promoting labor unrest for political purposes.
Kwon said attacks on public facilities, blocking of railroad tracks and other violent acts by strikers threaten public safety and social order.
Strikes, sit-ins and other labor actions began after President Chun Doo Hwan's declaration June 30, following a month of anti-government protest, that he would accept opposition demands for such democratic reforms as direct presidential elections and less government control of labor unions.
South Korean governments traditionally have worked with industry to hold down wages and make strikes virtually illegal. The policy has been a major factor in the export-driven economic boom that began nearly two decades ago.