South Korean truckers vote to return to work, ending strike for minimal wage protections By Reuters


© Reuters. Hanging truckers vote on whether or not to finish their strike in Gwangju, South Korea December 9, 2022. Yonhap through REUTERS


By Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) -As their walkout entered its third week, South Korean truckers realised their bid to widen and make everlasting a authorities scheme on minimal freight charges was failing as public help waned and President Yoon Suk-yeol refused to budge.

Many companies ready for the strike, which started Nov. 24, and had been able to climate short-term ache. And because the authorities elevated stress – together with unprecedented “begin work” orders – among the 25,000 putting truckers headed again to work this week, dealing with the prospect of not solely misplaced earnings however misplaced jobs, drivers advised Reuters.

On Friday, the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union mentioned that 62% of union members voted to name off the strike to return to work however that the union would proceed its minimal wage marketing campaign.

“The sport is over. It’s so unhappy that every one we might do is cease our automobiles, however nothing has modified,” mentioned Kang Myung-gil, a container truck driver who got here again to work on Monday after a two-week walkout.

“The union fell right into a lure that the federal government buried,” mentioned Kang, who will not be a union driver, referring to the federal government narrative that the strike is devastating the nation’s financial system. “Then, we, residing daily, simply have to just accept the fact and transfer on.”

After the strike ended, Yoon’s press secretary, Kim Eun-hye, mentioned the federal government would “unwaveringly abide by legal guidelines and rules” on labour points, including that the truckers’ motion had precipitated “astronomical harm” to the financial system.

This summer time, an eight-day strike by truckers delayed cargo shipments from automobiles to cement throughout Asia’s fourth-largest financial system earlier than it ended with either side claiming it had received concessions.

However this time, the federal government rejected the union’s bid to broaden minimal protections to other forms of cargo, together with oil tankers, bundle supply vehicles and auto carries, saying drivers are already well-paid. The federal government has mentioned it might solely prolong the present wage programme for 3 extra years.

The distinction was that Yoon took a more durable line than within the first strike, and South Korean industries had been prepared to undergo short-term losses to maintain operations operating.

Yoon ordered some drivers again to work, utilizing never-before invoked powers underneath a 2004 regulation, in contrast strikers to North Korea’s nuclear menace and declined to have interaction with union representatives.

After a start-work order was issued on Nov. 29, site visitors at ports started recovering to regular ranges, authorities knowledge reveals.

There was no panic shopping for of gasoline, as most of about 11,000 petrol stations had sufficient provides.

A serious tyre maker preemptively cleared manufacturing unit area to retailer stock prematurely of the strike, an organization official mentioned, declining to be recognized due to the sensitivity of the problem.

Refineries paid truckers greater than double by way of brokers to maintain provides flowing, and momentary employees had been employed to get completed Hyundai and Kia automobiles to native clients, drivers and a transport ministry official mentioned.

Hanging drivers comparable to Kang criticised the union’s management for not pushing for extra in the course of the first strike in June.

“Our union leaders should not have walked away with none agency settlement in June. They did not see their counterpart might change fully this time, however simply left their very own folks bleeding out,” mentioned a unionised gasoline tank driver, asking to not be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

In the meantime, Yoon’s exhausting line on labour has accompanied an increase in his approval ranking for the reason that strike started, in response to current knowledge.

A ballot launched on Thursday by polling agency Gongjung confirmed the president’s approval ranking had jumped by greater than 9 share factors to 41.5%.

“Yoon’s robust stance received the hearts of some aged conservatives which have lengthy been antagonistic about labour unions,” mentioned Kim Mi-hyun, head of pollster R&Search.

Companies are additionally prone to welcome Yoon’s dealing with of the strike, which might assist them hold prices flat when margins are underneath stress, analysts added.

“If the federal government continues to take care of labour points the way in which it did with this strike, that might assist corporations cut back threat,” mentioned Kim Dong-one, a enterprise professor at Korea College.

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