Class Solidarity for the Victory in the Struggle of Subcontracted Workers in Daewoo Shipbuilding

The world working class have paid too long for the crisis of a system which is demonstrably failing, whether it is to suffer the consequences of their imperialist wars or the collapse of living standards. As part of our work of revolutionary opposition to both, is is necessary for revolutionaries everywhere to share the news of struggles where they are and to publicise these as widely as possible. After decades of capitalist restructuring in which working class cohesion has been undermined, many workers feel atomised and powerless. The capitalists intend to keep it that way by keeping all the strikes and protests around the world quiet. Our message is that we are not alone but by sharing our experiences we can take the first steps towards building an international political response to what capitalism has already imposed as well as the even worse threat to come. In re-publishing this report of strikes of agency workers in the Korean shipyards from the comrades of Internationalist Communist Perspective we are making a modest contribution to that process. No War But the Class War!

On July 2, members and supporters of the Internationalist Communist Perspective (ICP) went to Geoje, a shipbuilding city. It was to support and solidarize with the struggle of the subcontracted workers of Daewoo Shipbuilding who have been on strike for over a month since June 2.

During a workers' protest in Geoje that day, a worker from a subcontractor of Daewoo Shipbuilding, who was fighting a sit-down at high altitude inside a ship, shouted the following:

We, subcontracted workers of shipbuilding, were not even properly given the basic rights of workers even if there is a Labor Standards Act. I hope this struggle wins rights for precarious workers not only in Daewoo Shipbuilding but also in the whole country... We can't live like this anymore.

Over the past seven years, the number of shipyard workers has decreased by more than 110,000, and more than 76,000 subcontracted workers were expelled during the 2016 shipbuilding industry crisis. Along with these indiscriminate layoffs, there were more than 30% wage cuts and welfare cuts. Recently, the shipbuilding industry has recovered again, but due to ultra-low wages and poor working conditions, the life of subcontracted workers is like a "living hell." The demand of subcontracted workers of Daewoo Shipbuilding is the recovery of the 30% of wages, which have been reduced since 2016, and the signing of a collective agreement.

The struggle occurred because the miserable lives of subcontracted workers continued as capitalists forced subcontracted workers to pay for the crisis in the shipbuilding industry in 2016. Therefore, since this struggle is a struggle to improve the miserable lives of subcontracted workers in the shipbuilding industry, it is also the struggle of all subcontracted workers in the shipbuilding industry in the same situation. In addition, it is connected to the struggle for the right to live for all workers in the face of the capitalist crisis and war-induced price surge and economic collapse.

This struggle was the first struggle of subcontracted workers to halt a shipyard and block the launch of a ship, so capital also was actively involved in destroying the strike. In order to prevent the strike of the subcontracted workers of Daewoo Shipbuilding from spreading into the struggle of all subcontracted workers, the capitalists of the shipbuilding industry responded with violent suppression, false accusations, and claims for damages. In response to these capitalists, the capitalist government of Korea applied for arrest warrants for two of the strike leaders.

This workers' demonstration confirmed the power of the strike struggle of subcontracted workers and the necessity of solidarity struggles. Of course, we also identified the limitations of formal solidarity and union bureaucracy.

Therefore, from now on, we need to focus more on the struggle here, and spread all struggles for the right of survival of the workers in crisis into the struggle against the capitalist system. As confirmed at last weekend's protest, the subcontracted workers of Daewoo Shipbuilding, who are fighting as best they can, need not only extensive support, but also class solidarity capable of defending them.

For class solidarity, class criticism of the regular workers' union, which stand by and disturb the struggle of subcontracted workers, and solidarity from below beyond regular and non-regular workers are important. For the victory of the struggle of subcontracted workers in Daewoo Shipbuilding, and furthermore, for the victory of all subcontracted workers in the shipbuilding industry, it is necessary to build an independent working class organization, the Shipbuilding Industry Workers Strike Committee.

Strengthen class solidarity!

Spread the struggle from below!

Build the Shipbuilding Industry Workers Strike Committee!

No War But the Class War!

Let's spread the struggle for the right to live against making the workers pay for the capitalist crisis!

Workers should stop making sacrifices and wage a class war against the bourgeoisie for their right to live!

Internationalist Communist Perspective (ICP)
5 July 2022
Tuesday, July 12, 2022