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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Yoon of South Korea warns of action on strike of truck drivers. business and economy

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol has warned that the government will move to break a nationwide strike by truckers, describing it as an illegal and unacceptable move to “hostage” the national supply chain during the economic crisis. Can

Thousands of unionized truck drivers began their second major strike on Thursday in less than six months, demanding better pay and working conditions. The action is already disrupting supply chains in the world’s 10th largest economy, affecting automakers, the cement industry and steel producers.

Union officials said that no talks or talks are going on with the government. The country’s transport ministry said it requested talks with the union on Thursday, but the parties have not yet agreed on a date.

Union officials estimated that about 25,000 of the approximately 420,000 transport workers in South Korea are joining the strike. The transport ministry said some 7,700 people were expected to rally for the strike on Friday at 164 locations across the country, compared with 9,600 on Thursday.

“The public will not tolerate holding the logistics system hostage in the event of a national crisis,” Yoon said in a Facebook message late Thursday.

“If irresponsible denial of transport continues, the government will have no option but to review a number of measures, including the commencement of work order.”

According to South Korean law, the government can issue an order forcing transport workers to return to their jobs during any severe disruption. Failure to comply can result in up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won ($22,550).

It would be the first time in South Korea’s history that such an order is issued if the government chooses to do so. Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong told reporters on Thursday that the ministry has started laying the groundwork for issuing the order.

South Korea saw October’s exports fall by the most in 26 months after the strike as its trade deficit widened for a seventh straight month, underscoring the slowdown in its export-driven economy.

Yoon’s approval rating remained mostly flat in a fifth week at 30 percent, according to Gallup Korea on Friday, amid an economic gloom, although his focus on economic matters drew a positive response.

Lee Bong-ju, head of the Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Union (CTSU), said truckers had no choice but to strike after the government stalled talks.

“The Yoon Suk-yeol government is threatening a strong response without making any effort to stop the strike,” Lee told reporters on Thursday.

On the first day of the strike, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) said it received 19 reports of disrupted logistics. These included inability to bring in raw materials, high logistics costs and fines due to delayed deliveries and loss of business with overseas buyers.

In one instance, raw materials for a chemical company were delivered under police protection after a transport vehicle was blocked by truckers from entering a factory, KITA said.

The cement industry suffered an estimated 19 billion won ($14.26 million) in production losses on Thursday, lobby group Korea Cement Association said on Thursday as shipments fell to less than 10,000 tonnes due to the strike.

This is compared to South Korea’s cement demand of 200,000 tonnes per day in the peak season between September and early December. There is a danger of running out of construction materials at construction sites after the weekend.

The industries ministry said that the steel sector also saw a drop in shipments on Thursday. The country’s largest steelmaker Posco declined to comment on the limit.

Meanwhile, workers at Hyundai Motor’s Ulsan factory are expected to roll out about 1,000 new cars directly to customers on Friday, after delivering about 50 cars on Thursday, a representative of a separate union at the factory told Reuters news agency. . The official said that so far there has been no impact on the auto output.

A Kia official told Reuters that drivers recruited by Hyundai Glovis, a logistics affiliate of Hyundai Motor, began delivering some Kia Corp cars directly to customers from Kia’s Gwangju plant.

The official did not specify how many Kia cars would be delivered directly to the buyers.

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