Diary on the Roof (3): Sit-In Journal by KIA Motors’ Temporary Employees Choi, Jung Myung and Han, Gyu Hyup
May 11, Wednesday, the 335th day –
Blossoming new flowers all against the rainstorm last night
Maybe it’s because it is so cool today: there are a lot of citizens resting on the lawn in the Plaza. Look so peaceful.
Despite the cool weather today, I wasn’t feeling that good, but the news they dismissed the investigation to determine the warrant’s validity on our head of organization Gong, Chang Sik changes my mood quite a lot.
Although it was abruptly announced just yesterday, we hear, around 3500 people signed the petition! Thank you very much, all of you. I wish the fastest release of our Confederation Union Chairman Han, Sang Gyoon, too.
Alongside the entrance of the City Hall, there are mothers performing some protest. Their placard says, “We mothers will protect you with all our lives.” Perhaps they are mothers of differently-abled children, protesting for some issues on behalf of their children.
That reminds me the parents whose children are attending Danwon high school. How on earth could they have ruined the classrooms where the Sewol Ferry victims had been sitting and studying? How can they not have any sympathy for the victims’ parents, they themselves being parents, too? It makes me angry. The victims’ parents are already in suffer absolutely with no room for any additional suffering at all... our reality where the parents have to struggle risking their lives for their sacrificed children, staying and sleeping on the street. What a miserable world... I do hope that the parents of Sewol Ferry victims stay strong.
Even the tiny, tiny plants have blossomed lots of new flowers all against the rainstorm last night. The horse bean has grown up, now desperately trying to coil up the pole. Those tiny plants as well stand that strong, blossoming that pretty flowers. We will, too, for as long as we stand strong enduring these hard days, see for sure one good day.
Ms. Yoon, Pruna, Hangrin Church congregation member who sent up our lunch today, members of Milyang Mini farm cooperative Ms. Jang, Soomin and Ms. Chung, Yoonyung who sent us dried apples and persimmon and roasted mixed grains powder, thank you so very much.
May 12, Thursday, the 337th day –
Too strong wind; we folded down the placard.
The wind was too strong. We folded down the placard.
Exactly one year ago from today, KIA Motors Union division, despite the opposition of Whasung and Gwangjoo divisions, agreed on the special negotiation on illegal work dispatch (5.12 Agreement). I still so vividly remember how angry we were with that unilateral agreement. We started to Sit-In this high on June 11 last year, one month after the 5.12 Agreement. In those circumstances, how could we possibly discuss about anything with the Union division?
After we had started this high-place Sit-In, KIA Motors responded to the request of the re-negotiation, and the current Union executive branch, five months ago, was elected with the pledge for the temporary employee comrades that they would completely annul the 5.12 Agreement and would guarantee the safe get down of the high-place Sitters-In.
- The 23rd executive branch: decided to transfer the item from the representative convention to the operating committee (not held)
- The 24thexecutive branch: re-decided to transfer the item from the representative convention to the operating committee, which was held this time but brought the item again back to the convention, after not having reached any agreement.
It is very depressing that our high-place Sit-In cannot be considered part of our Union activity. Yet the more depressing is that we do not see any willingness for the Union to fight. The chairman of KIA Motors Union division, at an interview with Mael Labor News on May 9, said that although he had wanted to accuse the company for the responsibility, KIA Motors had not even pretended to listen. It is absolutely obvious the company with this attitude has no intention to solve the illegal work dispatch problem. Please, if the negotiation is not possible, do organize fights at least. If that is not possible, either, do please help our comrades who are in fights, so they can fight better, please. We beg you.
The illegal dispatch ‘caught in the act’, the company chairman Chung Mong Goo has been charged by more than 5,000 citizens, and chairman Chung Mong Joon, the largest shareholder, has been taking his dividend and planning restructuring, we hear, completely ignoring our demand by far. The Chung family is picking up just all despicable stuff.
Pastor Whang Nam Deok at New National church and the congregation members who held “The Prayer Service for KIA Motors temporary employees’ transferring to permanent positions,” Hangrin church congregation member Ms. Kim, So Myung who brought lunch today, and People’s Voice pressperson Hong, Min Chun who wrote about our situation, thank you very much.
May 16, Monday, the 341st day –
The cruel wind…
It had rained with strong wind over the weekend, and it is so windy today, too.
We tied again the poles of the shadow canopy which got loosened thanks to the harsh and strong wind during the winter time. The wind is getting stronger, so we have to leave the placard folded down more often. It seems every morning the company takes our picture and reports; too bad we cannot keep the placard in place. One more reason concerning about the wind: the tiny plants we the Sitters-In are growing. The only stuff offering us the Sitters-In joyful mood. We protect them whenever the wind is here concerned their delicate stems might break. The only companion of us up here: our time together makes our love for them grow. So we made them a wind canopy; they look in peace now.
The Union, supposedly the wind-canopy for us, the Sitters-In, is in silence today, too. Again.
The Cheering day for us which was every Tuesday in the early days of our Sit-In is now back on again. Looking at some pickets saying, “Take it as a Union fight,” makes us feel bitter. We recall in the early days of our Sit-In, really, that so many people cheered us, empowering us.
Comrades from the federation of Korea Trade Unions labor fulfillment group who visited us over the weekend, Hangrin church member Kim, Jae Won who offered meal-boxes on Sunday, and Home-rice Ji, Yunho who took care of our lunch today, thank you all.
May 17, Tuesday, the 342nd day –
The Cheering day back on again!
The sky is gray yet the sun is scathing. The wind is now calm.
The Cheering day is now back on! So many people gave us precious support. It is a shame that we request to take our activity as that of the Union’s, not to demand to punish Chung, Mong Goo. That makes us look back our 10 years of Union activities. I felt at least partly proud of myself in having managed diligent life by then, but now I recall many regrets. No, I cannot take back my past, but I will do my best for this Sit-In, so I do not leave any regret behind myself any more.
The KIA Motors Union division representative convention is now on its 7th day session, dealing with the second item. Item number 3 is the matter of whether to consider the high-place Sit-In to be one Union fight. I believe the convention will make a wise decision as many wish.
We were invited to the eve of Gwangjoo 5.18 Pro-Democracy Movement 38th Anniversary at Geumnam-ro, Gwanjoo, through phone interview. Due to the lack of light here, we just said hello with our voice, having failed in video call. Comrade Choi, Jung Myung’s voice for you citizens goes, “The media which were silent for the days thirty eight years ago in Gwangjoo is now not broadcasting the Sitters’ just voice. Those whom we trust are only you who support us in solidarity with us.”
Yoosung comrades have started an indefinite Sit-In in front of the headquarters in Yangjae-dong. Take care of your health, and v.i.c.t.o.r.y!
Member of the Korean Alliance of Progressive Movement Mr. Kim, Hyun Sik who came visit us from far away, members of Jinjoo Women Agrarian Committee, Hangrin Church congregation member Ms. Yoon Sun Joo who prepared meal boxes. Thank you very much, all.
May 18, Wednesday, the 343rd day –
Could you please return our husbands back home?
They say it is the hottest day today this year. The Sitters-In have already experienced one summer up here, so it is okay, still endurable. Feeling the iron board getting hot, we just think we will prepare to fight with the hotness.
There are some writings written by our wives. The writings make us feel sorry; reading comrade Choi’s wife’s, who even had avoided getting interviewed not to be present before public, and my wife’s. I will thank you for the rest of my life.
- A letter of Ms. Gwon, Hyun Sook (Wife of Mr. Choi Jung Myung)
It has been one year since my husband (saying it was not a place for human living, so would be back after a couple of months) left home with his rucksack on his back. It breaks my heart into pieces, the whole world seemingly collapsing onto me, to hear whether it is a Union fight or not when they are on not-a place-for-human-living, passing through summer and winter putting out their lives there. A couple of days ago while entering into the building (on which my husband is staying) to give my husband some clothing, one man looked at me with so sad eyes. Perhaps he knows that my husband’s fight is not considered a Union activity? This kind of thought gives me pain.
It is even hard just to live as a parent and citizen on the ground, but my husband climbed up there to Sit-In, saying he was going to devote his self for his companions. He lived for years as a Union representative and chose to be up there that high to perform his role fully, almost to the point of being stupid, as a representative for temporary employees.
I would like to ask you, the Union gentlemen, how you think about Jeon Tae-il who put on fire on his body on the street at Pyungwha market, not in the sewing factory where he had been working, if you cannot admit my husband’s fight as a Union activity because the high-place Sit-In is not being done in a KIA Motors factory and because it did not get the Union’s previous permission.
There was no Union when Jeon Tae-il lived. However, although there IS the Union these days, yet still, if the Union is neglecting two management persons dying in loneliness in the midst of fighting, the world is even worse than that when there was no Union at all. I don’t really want to think … that my husband is being alienated even from the Union because he is a temporary employee. I hope not. Please do not call him comrade only as a lip-service, who always talked so proudly about the Union’s tradition as one large conglomerate’s, the size and power of the metal Union, and so on. Although the current representative convention might conclude the Sit-In as a Union activity, the fact that you Union gentlemen are discussing this kind of item almost one year after the Sit-In started makes me feel very disappointed.
Could you please return my husband back home now? Dear representatives of KIA Motors Union division! Division chairman! Don’t you have to admit my husband’s Sit-In as a Union fight, so the Union itself fights against the company, and so the two persons can get down? Has it been because of the Union that my husband has not been able to come back home for almost one year? I wonder in resentment. He was convincing me, with his loud voice, that the Union would fight together with them once they climbed up to the height and started the Sit –In there. Our son and daughter, elementary-schoolers (who say that their dad has not come see them for one year so he might be never going to come see them any more), cannot take their eyes off of the children with their fathers whenever they see those children.
We requested the KIA Union division chairman to meet us the wives through the vice chairman and the planning director, but you have not answered us, Mr. Chairman. I hear the chairman had said he had been so busy due to the important agenda of the representative convention. Can there be any agenda more critical or urgent than a matter of human life and death, Mr. Chairman?
The Sitters-in have been weakened throughout the winter, having lost their appetite. They just keep going only out of their will. Do please help them come down and get doctors’ thorough examination. If you are a democratic Union, you must have human compassion. Eagerly looking forward to seeing them coming down before the one year focus fight, before another summer, I do beg the proper decision of the KIA Union representatives.
- A Letter of Ms. Kim, So Hee (Wife of Mr. Han Gyu Hyup)
Three hundred forty three days...
Days are flowing without Mr. Han, Gyu Hyup, father of three children. It has already been almost one year although what he said, “I will be back just in a little while,” is still so vivid around my ears.
His daily high blood pressure medicine gained one more pill. Last summer he got wounded on his foot so got stitches up there with no anesthesia, and then got burned, and then frostbite during the coldest winter. No one ever imagined this kind of situation. Now he is suffering from toothache but just enduring the pain only with simple painkillers. When on earth can he get down and be treated at hospitals?
Ten years of having worked at KIA Motors!
My husband worked so hard, harder than anyone else. After we gave birth to our youngest daughter, he worked even harder saying that we had to make a world where there is no discrimination for our children’s generation. That husband now has imprisoned himself for himself into a prison in the sky. I so wanted to stop him, asking, “Why you?” but I could not because I knew he had made a toughest decision for everybody. All I could do has been to pray for him to come back home with no injury, illness or anything like that.
I cannot go visit my husband often, but I come participate in Friday Moonwha-je every week together with you all. Our older sons first had a hard time admitting the fact that their father was doing a high-place Sit-In, but these days they have been supporting their dad with their utmost strength and power. Yet, for our second son who has been trying to get a job to share the responsibility for the household which has been in suffer after my husband got fired, and for our oldest son who is about to be recruited to the military, the pain from their father’s absence is getting more and more severe.
Our youngest daughter, the little one, often asks me, “When is dad coming home? It’s like he forgot about me. They say he’s gonna leave the earth…” What can I say to her? It is frustrating. It is even more frustrating that there is little for me to do, me as one family member, too. I cannot fall asleep thinking, gosh, he may have to keep staying up there even after one year of being there. Please, please help him come back as father and husband as soon as possible.
It seems it’s time that we all gathered our strength to make the company chairman Chung Mong Goo keep the law and to have the temporary employees transform to permanent positions. All we the family members can lean on are those of you who have been with us and supported us even from somewhere we cannot see. We just ask you all to stay with us just a little longer.
Ms. Yoon Pruna, Hangrin Church member, thank you for the lunch. It was delicious.
May 23, Monday, the 348th day –
From Up high to the ground
The heat wave warnings have gone and now it looks it’s going to rain. From the morning there was a large assembly of nursing teachers with loud sound in the Plaza. We hear that the KIA Motors Union division turned down the meeting request of the KIA high-place Sit-In countermeasure committee. The division has also turned down the meeting request of the family members.
Any level in the Union system has an opinion on a certain issue. That the KIA division turned down the meeting request implies two cases: either the division does not have an opinion on the matter or its opinion is opposite to that of the countermeasure committee. Either case only offers despair to us the Sitters-In. Thanks to those of you who have supported us in solidarity we could have come this far. But the only party involved to solve the illegal dispatch problem is the Union itself. That the division does not have any opinion about the matter is the same as saying, “You the Sitters-In solve the problem on your own as you wish.” But the division chairman elect came visit us right after elected and promised that he would solve this problem in a short time.
What would you like us the Sitters-In do any further? If there is anything we can do any further, please let us know. We will do anything to achieve victory from our fight.
Ms. Yoohee who came over the weekend with rice-balls and sleepers, Hangrin Church member Kim Jae Won who sent up meal-boxes and Home-rice Ji, Yunho, thank you very much.
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