SEOUL, South Korea -- About 30,000 workers, led by fire engines and forklifts, staged street protests in a provincial industrial center Tuesday to demand the giant Hyundai Group reopen plants shut down by management.
Meanwhile, about 300 miners seized a key provincial road in another part of the country. The miners clashed with riot police, injuring 21 people -- including 19 officers hit by rocks thrown by protesters.
In Seoul, guests deserted the prestigious Lotte Hotel as 500 hotel workers including waiters, cooks and room attendants staged a sit-in for the second day in the main lobby, demanding steep wage increases.
The labor unrest is part of worker protests that have been growing since July 1, when President Chun Doo Hwan promised sweeping democratic reforms. More than 800 labor disputes have erupted and about 400 of them are still under way, government officials said.
Chun presided over a Cabinet meeting and warned prolonged labor disputes could cause serious damage to the economy.
'We are now pursuing democratic progress but it should be clearly recognized that there can be no democratic progress without economic progress,' Chun was quoted by a presidential spokesman as saying.
'The current labor problems are a result of growing labor demands for equitable income distribution and more free labor activity, which must be experienced in an industrialization process.'
Workers from five Hyundai subsidiaries in Ulsan, 190 miles southeast of Seoul, staged a 6-mile march into the city center from the Hyundai Heavy Industries facilities led by two fire engines, a pair of forklifts and six other vehicles.
The protesters were blocked at one point by 3,000 riot police and a two-hour standoff developed, but police allowed the marchers to continue to a public stadium after labor leaders promised there would be no violence.
Late Tuesday, Hyundai workers and management agreed the government should mediate labor disputes at each of the Hyundai subsidiaries and resolve the workers' grievances by Sept. 1.
The government said it would send Vice Labor Minister Han Jin-hee to Ulsan to help management and workers break the deadlock.
Eight Hyundai subsidiaries in the Ulsan area remained closed, idling 65,000 workers. Six of them were shut down Monday by the group management, which refused to deal with a 'representative union' that wanted to speak for the workers of all the subsidiaries.
Hyundai officials said such a union is illegal, since there are separate unions at the individual subsidiaries.
Korea's three largest automakers -- Hyundai Motor Co., Daewoo Motor Co. and Kia Motor Corp. -- remained idle because they were unable to get parts and components from strike-ridden suppliers. The nation's largest shipyards, Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding and Heavy Machinery Co., also remained out of operation.