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Diary on the Roof (1):Sit-In Journal by Kia Motors’ Temporary Employees Choi, Jung Myung and Han, Gyu Hyup

Diary on the Roof (1): Sit-In Journal by Kia Motors’ Temporary Employees

Choi, Jung Myung and Han, Gyu Hyup

Field media Min[people]Plus starts its first serial of the Sit-In Journal simultaneously with its first issue publishing. MinPlus would like to share the moments where people, those who lean on each other and lift the spirits of all, finally getting over all adversities together in the end, through their journals full of scents of people. The first serial of such is the journal of Mr Choi, Jung Myung and Mr. Han, Gyu Hyup, members of the Metal Union KIA Motors division Whaseong Temporary Employee branch. Their critical issue is "the Permanent Employment of Temporary Position." In South Korea, temporary employees usually work full-time with less wage and little compensation for tougher works. They are supposed either to be switched to permanent employment or to be permanently contracted to their current position ('non-regular' employment) after 2 years of temporary employment, but employers usually do not keep the regulation. Instead, the employers simply prolong their temporary contraction with the workers or dismiss them. Demanding the critical permanent employment position and some other issues, these two Sitters-In have been staying and living on the top of an electric display board on a tall building right next to Seoul Plaza, continuing their Sit-In for almost one year up to now. The Sit-In Journal is open to anyone and everyone acting like these two. Min[people]Plus is waiting for the participation of you all and your warm attention. [editor’s note]

April 29, 2016. Friday

The “Three Hundredth Day Munwha-Je’ [a type of protest] that was held on the 324th Day.

It seems we have not been wasting our time for nothing. So touching to see so many people have come visit us. We send our humble gratitude to the representatives of the Metal Union, the Kia Motors division and Whaseong branch who gave their precious speeches. We will keep striving to stay strong in return.

Watching Sir Baek, Gi Wan who spoke for us despite his uneasy condition, we even felt embarrassed. Sir, we will pray for your health. We do thank you, Sir. We will not disappoint you.

The cards of our branch comrades, finally reached us by the chief of our branch after about one-hour confrontation with the police, lifted our spirits, above all and most of all. There were the scents of sweats, inside and outside the cards, from the hard work of our comrades who had tried preparing everything for the ceremony. We will never forget that...

The speech of Mr. Choi, Jung Myung at the Munwha-Je [a type of protesting ceremony mixed with some cultural contents originated from the time when any political protesting was forbidden]

Dear comrades! You are so many here today. So happy to meet those of you who came far from Whaseong, Gwangjoo and Soha. We have missed you so much. I do thank you, most sincerely, for that you have run to us only to show your burning solidarity for us. Thank you very much.

I was wearing a half-sleeve shirt when I first climbed up to this place. Now, before I have noticed it, the seasons have made their circle one more time, and again I have changed to a half-sleeve shirt. It will make one full year after next month for us to have stayed here on the top of the board. It seems like I am having a long, long dream. It is true that we have adjusted ourselves to this environment, but still, it also is true that it’s very, very hard for us to admit this situation, which seems too un-true to admit.

One difference we have made since we got onto this height for our Sit-In is that we have made the corporation come out to the negotiation table again. We, through our high-place Sit-In fight, have called KIA Motors, which had insisted that the negotiation on the illegal work dispatch had already finished and there would never be any need for the negotiation any more at all, upon to the negotiation table back again.

Yet, that is just where we are right now, frozen. As of today, Kia Motors has never submitted any specific plan for the permanent employment, and the negotiation is stuck just right there with not a single sign for any proceeding. If the company, if it ever has any willfulness to do anything at all, now it is time the company did anything from now on. KIA Motors, endlessly sabotaging the negotiation procedure, should present an alternative plan with sincerity for the negotiation right away, abandoning its mean dirty tricks.

I declare that it is a stupid mistake if KIA Motors assumes we will get weakened so will eventually give up if it prolongs and drags the negotiation on and on and on. Dear KIA Motors Union division and the branches, please do proceed the negotiation as fast as possible and actively organize fights for the negotiation. This is what we the Sitters-In request and hope to you our comrades today. .

It is true that there is no man of strength stronger than time. We are getting fatigued, our body and mind. Yet we will never succumb. We are still burning with our willfulness for fight and still do have strength for that. The foundation of our strength is you, our comrades, nothing else. For as long as your willfulness for fight is alive, we will be here, fighting to the end, until we all see the final destination of our fight. We will trust you our comrades, leaning on you. This is how we can last on and on and on, with the faith in you and the power of loyalty among us.

Together, laughing, to the end, till we meet on the ground with our victory in our health, Fighting!

This is Han, Gyu Hyub, doing Sit-In together with our comrade Choi, Jung Myung. I will do my greetings with our fighting. Fighting!

It’s been a while, dear comrades.

I am so glad to meet you all again in 124 days. Thank you so much being here with us. I, too, never knew I could keep going for 324 days long. It would absolutely have not been possible had it not been for your help.

The executives of the permanent committee, representatives and the union comrades who have suffered all year round taking care of us; Mr. Ji, Yun Ho and Hyangrin Church congregation members who bring meals for us every day; those many who come visit here only to see us and shout toward us looking up from the ground... And so many others I cannot keep mentioning. Thanks to you all, we could go on this far this healthy. We do thank you all so very much.

A lot of people ask us if we are okay. We have become used to the situation where they cut meals and electricity, the police disrupting our having meals and the stuff. It is okay being hot or cold, too. Rather, our health condition, since we had gone home only weekends due to our work before we climbed up here, might have gotten better thanks to the great meals and the care of great doctors. Our life condition might be said better than before...

The things that break our hearts are, though, our family members who are in constant suffering due to us and the KIA Motors which never does any self-examination. We are so sorry for our family because we two were the only persons who earned living for our whole family. Now, without us, our family members are in constant hardships of living. We feel so sorry for that. We send our sincerest gratitude to our family members who have done absolutely no complaint so far, just standing together with us instead. Thank you so much.

The company is now looking so nonchalant as if nothing had happened at all before. Yes, it is the fruit of our Sit-In for the company to have come back to the negotiation table, but the company people have been repeating, “We will think about it,” on and on and on for several years, doing nothing.

I am now pleading with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions Metal Union KIA Motors division. The abolition of temporary position is not a slogan but the very matter of the right for the life of ten million laborers. Don’t we all know about that? The KIA Motors is only waiting for us to be exhausted. Do please make us not be exhausted. Do please give us hope. With the hope you offer, we can go on, smiling and laughing, no matter how hard this Sit-In is.

I do thank you one more time, those of you who have gathered here for us. We will continue to fight with you, too, until the day when the temporary position is abolished.

Fighting!

May 1, 2016. Sunday. The 126th World Labor Day

We took the photo supporting the first issue publishing of MinPlus!

▲ The MinPlus logo which union member Choi, Jung Myung, taking a long, long time, drew himself. He got a ‘proof shot’ with it and sent it to MinPlus.
▲ Mr.Choi is enthusiastically drawing the MinPlus logo.

The wind has been so strong since yesterday, Saturday, and today it is quite hot.

In the morning when we wake up, we see there is the stage for the ceremony by the Federation of Korea Trade Unions down in Seoul Plaza. [There are two Unions in South Korea: the other is the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions.] In a while, we hear, “Choi, Jung Myung and Han, Gyu Hyup, Stay strong!” through an amplifier. We look down to the street, and we see Samsung Electronics Service division comrades waving their arms up toward us. Thank you all who empowered us in front of the tent today.

A lot of Korea Trade Union members down there today.

We see, on the screen down on the stage in the Plaza, the Labor Day ceremonies being held nationwide, here and there, lots of union members participating, We feel a bit disappointed not able to see the Confederation Trade Unions ceremony in Seoul, but we do hope, as of today, through more powerful fights and all, may the Confederation Trade Unions chairman Han, Sang Gyun (who is now in prison) be released, and may be the hope of the people who have been forced to the edge of this deep cliff.

While the ceremony held down in the Plaza, we took the supporting photos to celebrate the first issue publishing of MinPlus which will publish our Sit-In journal as a serial. Almost every day we see broadcasting company vehicles staying alongside the Plaza, but we laborers’ fights are never broadcast or published. Rather, they are even manipulated quite often.

Dear MinPlus, please do let people know why the laborers are fighting in the streets and on the heights in the center of the city, putting out their life, for what. We have nothing like supporting pickets, so comrade Choi, Jung Myung himself drew the MinPlus logo with magic pens and got the proof shot taken. Isn’t he a great artist? (Laughter) We do congratulate on your first issue publishing today, MinPlus, from the bottom of our hearts.

Comrades of the Railroad Industry Union who supported during the march on Saturday, reporter Kim, Ji Eun at Hangyoreh Newspaper who wrote about our desperate feelings, Hyangrin Church congregation members who brought lunchboxes even on Sunday, a lot of comrades who sent up your supporting letters, and Dr. Cho, Gyu Seok who takes care of our health all the time. We thank you all so very much.

▲ This photo was taken from the Sit-In place high above the building, looking down the Plaza where the ceremony was taking place.

May 2, 2016. Monday. The 327th day

Mosquitos suck blood for survival yet the large conglomerates... – Mosquitos and large conglomerates

It feels summer is here already. We are sweating so badly. The season of “Turning an iron plate upside down” in our expression is arriving. It looked like a storm with strong wind coming, getting darker with thicker clouds, so we prepared against strong wind. We removed the placard and folded it, and tied the shade canopy tightly again with a couple of ribbons attached to the poles.

I could not get a sound sleep last night. Didn’t care much, and then got mosquito attack. I did try to react, but it was too late. After completely awakened, I recognized that here and there on my body had gotten swollen, and my own blood was swiftly spreading on my palm.

So, these mosquitos suck our blood to survive, but the large conglomerates suck us laborers’ blood to dominate. Till the laborers all die. There are too many vicious men, inferior to mosquitos, who only possess money. A horrible business owner who sells out the company (where the laborers have worked several decades, he himself has called whom ‘my family members’) and abandons the laborers, forcing them to protest on top of an iron tower several hundred days.

A country where in a village, among those who have lived side by side several decades, one, all of a sudden, with his eyes completely blind for the potential wealth from the possible exploitation of the village, suddenly pushes a tiny amount of money into others’ palms and violently forces them out of the village, the service bullies marching into the village to tear down houses and all, and the police making way for them. A country where one has to Sit-In for several hundred days to appeal to keep the law, putting out one’s life... This seems like the self-portrait of the Republic of Korea. Makes me feel bitter...

We heard today the service bullies are going to be put into the iron tower Sit-In spot in Mandeok. We pray for the very safety of all the Sitters-In there...

It feels a little idle after the Resolution Mass Meeting and the World Labor Day. The rain sound is going louder... All those of you who are doing Sit-In’s here and there, do have a peaceful night, tonight.

We thank you, Mr. Lee, Woo Chang from the Gathering of Ilsan Citizens Who Remember Sewol Ferry and ‘Home-Rice’ Mr. Ji, Yun Ho who cooked lunch and sent it up for us today. Thank you very much.

May 3, 2016. Tuesday. The 328th day

The final destination we can reach only after the world is transformed

It started raining last night and has been raining all morning. The temperature abruptly dropped down, so we put on long-sleeves again.

Up here, if we close our eyes, it feels as if we were on a plain. The wind makes an engine-like sound and our bodies fluctuate thanks to wind current, so we feel just like we were traveling far away, going abroad on a plain. Our bodies stumble even during the short while of recording on smartphone. Many are worried for us, but please don’t be. We are doing just fine, well-withstanding actually, so please not to worry too much.

Perhaps we might have embarked a long journey with a certain aim. How nice would it be if we could have the name of our final destination like an exotic city name or something? Yet our final destination is not a place we can reach through moving our bodies but the one we can get to only after the world is transformed. So it feels too far. Just too far away...

That far, crookedly zigzag meandering, climbing up and down the mountains and crossing the rivers, falling down and getting hurt, we are now here... this far... with someone’s help, all the time. Whenever we feel, “God, I wish I could go home,” afraid that we might regret for the rest of our whole life, so deciding again that we will just go on until we see the final destination of this journey, we straighten up our mind and spirit. Again.

We hear that our Hitec RCD comrades have closed their iron tower Sit-In. We do wish the very best result their striving so far deserves so very much.

Thank you very much, Ms. Kim, So Myung, for taking care of our meal boxes in this harsh weather of heavy rain and strong wind.

Editorial office news@minplus.or.kr

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