SEOUL, June 11 (Korea Bizwire) — Unionized cargo truck drivers extended their strike to a fifth day on Saturday, causing disruptions and delays in logistics nationwide, industry sources said.
Some 33 percent, or 7,350 members, of the 22,000-strong Cargo Truckers Solidarity, under the wing of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, went on walkout as of Saturday, demanding the government extend a freight rate system guaranteeing basic wages for truck drivers to cope with surging fuel costs.
Major ports and a slew of companies reported partial logistics disruptions due to the strike.
For one, some 7,268 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) were transported in and out of the Busan port, the country’s No. 1 port, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, a 34 percent drop compared to a month ago.
According to the transportation ministry, shipments of automobiles, steel goods and cement have been delayed or canceled due to the walkout.
Hyundai Motor is suffering some disruptions to its production in Ulsan because truckers refused to deliver components. Steelmaker POSCO has also been experiencing difficulties in shipping products.
Several scuffles between strikers and police have been reported in cities, including Ulsan.
In Busan, six union members were apprehended by police on Saturday for allegedly blocking cargo trucks from transporting goods, but were released 10 hours later.
Two police officers were injured while taking them into custody and sent to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Dozens of others have been apprehended for similar reasons.
On Wednesday, 15 were taken into custody on charges of blocking cargo trucks from entering the plant operated by the country’s leading beverage company, Hite Jinro Co., in Icheon, some 50 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
The union is demanding an extension of the Safe Trucking Freight Rates System designed to prevent dangerous driving and guarantee minimum freight rates for truck drivers. The system, introduced for a three-year run in 2020, is scheduled to end Dec. 31.
The government urged the striking truckers to end their strike as both sides have been in negotiations to narrow out their differences on key agenda items.