June 16, 2022
SEOUL – The country’s unionized cargo truckers ended a weeklong strike and returned to work Wednesday after reaching a tentative late-night agreement with the government on the extension of a minimum wage system based on a freight rate.
The sit-in protest, which caused a major supply disruption across the country, has left industrial businesses with a damage bill worth some 2.5 trillion won ($1.93 billion), companies said.
Of them, steelmakers saw the most damage at 1.15 trillion won, followed by the petrochemical industry (500 billion won), automotive industry (257 billion won), cement industry (91.2 billion won) and tire industry (57 billion won).
Manufacturers had to stack their products inside factories and failed to meet delivery deadlines as truck drivers refused to transport.
Representatives of the 22,000-strong Cargo Truckers Solidarity, under the wing of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, met with Transport Ministry officials at Uiwang logistics hub at Tuesday 8 p.m. for the fifth round of talks. The two sides agreed on extending a freight rate system which was adopted for a three-year run in 2020. Drivers have argued that the system guarantees their basic pay, and without the higher rate, they feel under pressure to drive dangerously fast to make ends meet.
The revision to the related law will be discussed at the parliament, but talks are currently stalled largely due to resistance from businesses complaining about heightened financial burdens amid soaring fuel costs.