Spivak’s solidarity letter for SsangYong workers in Korea

Professor Gayatri Spivak of Columbia University is identified in this Hankyoreh article as “인도 대표 석학” [Leading intellectual representing India]. Hmmm…

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SsangYong is the fourth largest South Korea-based automobile manufacturer. A 70% share of SsangYong was acquired by Indian Mahindra & Mahindra in February 2011. On December 13, two workers who were laid off in 2009 “embarked on an aerial protest 70m up a chimney at the automaker’s factory” (The Hankyoreh, December 13, 2014).

Here’s the text of Spivak’s letter in support of SsangYong workers:

I write in support of the 153 workers who are putting their lives on the line to protest their layoff by Ssang Yong Motor Company. Whatever the letter of the law, the spirit of the law clearly shows us that there can be no equitable comparison between a company’s loss and the devastation suffered by a worker when he or she is laid off. It is not just the destruction of a life but it is also the destruction of the future of children. It is not surprising that there have been suicides among the laid off workers. I urge Mahindra and Mahindra to be true to their corporate social responsibility and welcome the workers back into their factory.

The Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum has urged the adoption of a new Social Covenant. It begins with an exhortation to agree on “basic, universal ethical values;” and yet we are unable to imagine the unequal balance between our profit and loss and the life and death of factory workers.

I hope we will hear good news from the Ssang Yong Motor Company soon and the workers will come back to work.

Hoping for the best,

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Padma Bhushan
University Professor in the Humanities
Columbia University