South Korea Truckers Second Strike, Threatens to Disrupt Fuel Supplies

Unionised truckers in South Korea kicked off their second main strike in lower than six months on Thursday, threatening to disrupt manufacturing and gas provides for industries from autos to petrochemicals on the planet’s Tenth-largest financial system.

With gas prices hovering, the truckers are calling on the federal government to make everlasting a minimum-pay system often known as the ‘Protected Freight Price’ that is because of expire by the top of the 12 months, and to broaden advantages for truckers in different industries, together with oil tankers.

The federal government has mentioned it’ll lengthen the scheme for 3 years however rejected different union calls for. In June, an eight-day, non-violent strike by truckers delayed cargo shipments throughout Asia’s fourth-largest financial system, costing greater than $1.2 billion in misplaced output and unmet deliveries earlier than it ended with either side claiming it received concessions.

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The organising union kicked off 16 rallies throughout the nation on Thursday morning, together with at a port in Ulsan that homes Hyundai Motor’s foremost manufacturing plant. The union estimated some 22,000 took half within the rallies, whereas the transport ministry mentioned about 9,600 folks attended, and there have been no clashes with police monitoring occasions.

As a loud rally acquired underway at transport hub Uiwang, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Seoul, a whole lot of truckers marched across the depot – watched by a heavy police presence – carrying banners and sporting headbands with the slogan “Unite Combat”. They chanted, “We cease, the world will cease!” and “Let’s cease driving to vary the world!”.

Union officers mentioned a few thousand truckers gathered on the rally, the place the pinnacle of the union’s Seoul metropolitan space department, Lee Kwang-jae, advised them to take up key positions to attempt to block any makes an attempt to make shipments. One individual main the protesters known as out to a container truck making for a depot, “Don’t embarrass your self by working. Be a part of us!”

They deliberate to separate in two teams, with half staying at Uiwang and the opposite half heading to Pyeongtaek, about 44 kilometers (27 miles) away, which is near ports serving China.

At Busan, South Korea’s greatest port, cops and buses have been seen lined up alongside key routes. Lead organiser of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union (CTSU) has warned the strike might cease oil provides at main refineries and transport at main ports and industrial vegetation. The union has mentioned virtually all of CTSU’s 25,000 members, about 6% of the nation’s truck drivers, will participate within the strike, joined by an unspecified variety of non-union members.

“We now have no selection however to cease all logistics in Korea,” mentioned Lee Bong-ju, head of the union, on Thursday.

‘CRACK DOWN’

Earlier this week, Transport Minister Received Hee-ryong mentioned the Protected Freight Price system had not been confirmed to enhance the security of truckers however to solely elevate their incomes, a purpose why the federal government has refused to broaden the scope of the scheme.

“The federal government and the ruling celebration misled, and brazenly defended capital saying that truckers’ earnings ranges weren’t low – and that if the Protected Freight Price system have been expanded, costs might rise attributable to elevated logistics prices,” Lee mentioned.

The union is asking the federal government to make sure large companies are held accountable in the event that they violate the minimal wages rule. “Frontline truck drivers shouldn’t be sympathetic to unjustified collective motion. We’ll strictly crack down on truck drivers’ obstruction with the police in order that secure transportation might be ensured,” Transport Minister Received mentioned on Thursday.

Business giants together with Hyundai Motor and steelmaker POSCO have been pressured to chop output by the June strike, and POSCO has warned that recent motion might gradual restore works at a significant plant hit by floods this summer time.

“If the cargo union strike continues, it’ll put an excessive amount of of a burden on not solely main industries, but additionally folks’s livelihoods and the nationwide financial system,” mentioned Prime Minister Han Duck-soo on Thursday.

Firms similar to Hyundai Metal, petrochemical corporations and a battery maker advised Reuters that as a result of the strike was anticipated, pressing contract volumes have been shipped out and obligatory uncooked supplies have been ready upfront. Nonetheless, limits in space for storing and logistics would make the strike problematic if it lasted.

A Hyundai Metal spokesperson mentioned its each day cargo of about 8,000 tonnes of metal merchandise at its Pohang manufacturing facility couldn’t be moved on Thursday because of the strike.

The federal government is deploying alternate options similar to military-run container transport autos and contemplating securing extra space for storing in case cargoes pile up. Some trade officers famous that navy autos will not be outfitted to hold merchandise similar to metal or recent produce.

The Korea Oil Station Affiliation is asking gasoline station house owners to safe sufficient stock forward of the strike, an affiliation official mentioned earlier, whereas charging stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles have put up indicators warning that provide might be minimize.

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