Seoul, June 7 (EFE).- Unionized cargo truckers across South Korea began an indefinite general strike on Tuesday to demand an extension of a government freight rate system guaranteeing basic wages in order to cope with rising fuel costs.
A majority of the 25,000 members of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity, under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, were predicted to join the strike that began at midnight, as well as non-unionized truckers, local news agency Yonhap reported.
According to the land, infrastructure and transport ministry, at least 8,200 carriers – 37 percent of them unionized – participated in the protests that have taken place so far without any incidents or arrests.
The carriers had been threatening since last month to go on an indefinite strike if the government did not extend the duration of the Safe Trucking Freight Rates System, which was implemented in 2020 and scheduled to end on Dec. 31.
They are also asking for a rise in basic freight rates and furtherance of their labor rights.
The union considers that the ministry has not shown sufficient willingness to negotiate in an environment marked by a sharp rise in fuel prices in Asia’s fourth largest economy, caused mainly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The South Korean police have warned that they will respond sternly and arrest any strikers who commit illegal acts.
Meanwhile, the government is studying measures to contain the damage caused by the strike.
So far, no supply disruptions have been reported in the country, especially since many in the public and private sectors have increased stocks in anticipation of a strike.
However, experts believe that the effects of the strike could begin to be felt in the coming days. EFE