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S. Korea car plant site of clashes

SEOUL, July 21 (UPI) -- At least eight people were injured Tuesday in a clash between South Korean police and workers laid off at Ssanyong Motor Co.'s assembly plant.

The standoff between 3,000 riot police and workers began Monday when the police entered the assembly plant at Pyeongtaek, where nearly 1,000 workers have occupied a paint shop for two months protesting massive layoffs, South Korean's Yonhap News Agency reported.

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Police and company officials said Molotov cocktails, and nuts and bolts fired from large slingshots were aimed at police as they approached the facility. Three police officers and five non-union Ssanyong officials were injured.

Outside the paint shop, about 1,500 non-union workers resumed work at the plant's research facilities, Yonhap said.

Ssanyong officials said the company has stopped supplying water and gas to the four-story paint shop.

Union spokesman Lee Chang-geun said workers faced difficulties using toilets or washing because of the water cutoff.

"Such measures only make union colleagues more angry," Lee said.

The strike has cost Ssanyong 11,520 vehicles, more than $169 million, in lost production, Ssanyong spokesman Chung Mu-young said.

In February, Ssanyong, the smallest automaker in South Korea, received bankruptcy protection, Yonhap said. In exchange, it implemented a turnaround plan that includes cutting its workforce by 36 percent, or 2,646 employees.

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