SEOUL, Jan. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — Unionized delivery workers on Friday threatened to launch a general strike unless measures are put in place to prevent their overwork before next month’s Lunar New Year.
Parcel deliveries are expected to increase around the holiday, which falls on Feb. 12 this year, as people travel to their hometowns and exchange gifts with family and friends.
Couriers have complained for months that their workloads are unbearable, especially after a surge in online orders caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year, 19 delivery workers died apparently from overwork, according to industry representatives.
“Even after logistics firms announced measures to prevent deaths from overwork (in October), one worker died and four others fainted due to overwork,” a member of the national union of delivery workers said during a press conference.
“Unless the social consultative body arrives at an agreement and immediately implements it before the Lunar New Year holiday, we will have no choice but to launch a general strike,” he said.
The consultative body was formed last month to address the couriers’ complaints and is comprised of members of the industry, logistics firms, consumer groups, the government, the National Assembly and experts.
The union said it will watch the panel’s announcement on Tuesday and then ask its members to vote on a potential strike on Wednesday and Thursday.
It said it expects some 5,500 of its members at five major logistics firms — including Hanjin Transportation Co., Lotte Global Logistics Co. and CJ Logistics Co. — to take part in the strike.
The union’s demands include increasing the number of workers assigned to sorting parcels, halting nighttime deliveries and “normalizing” delivery fees.