Truckers end strike
By Kim Rahn
Truck drivers have reached an agreement on fare hikes with their employers, ending their five-day walkout.
They returned to work Friday evening after accepting the agreement through a vote.
The truckers’ union said more than half of the members agreed to a 9.9-percent transport fare increase proposed by the Container Transportation and Container Yard Operators’ Association, a group of 15 logistics companies which connect truckers with shippers.
“Some 67 percent of us decided to accept the proposal. Following it, we are going back to work,” a union director said.
Besides the fare hike, the drivers also demanded the government adopt a standard fare system charging according to the volume of cargo and the distance of transport. But it was not accepted, as the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said such a deal should be made between the truckers and the companies, not by the government.
“We talked about the system with the ministry but the talks were not progressing. So we decided to stop talking with the ministry but ask the opposition Democratic United Party to legislate for the issue,” the director said.
The truck drivers and the association began the negotiations at 3 p.m. on Thursday and continued for 20 hours before putting the compromise to the vote. The union, which initially demanded a fare hike of 30 percent, lowered its demand to 23 percent, while the association, which originally proposed 4 percent, raised it to 6 percent. They have kept narrowing the gap.
Unionized drivers also demanded the government cut the tax on their gas purchases and revise what they describe as an unfair subcontract system for drivers, claiming the system benefits only large logistics firms. The ministry said it would try to mend the related systems.
On the fifth day of the walkout, the number of strikers participating in the collective action dropped to only 7.8 percent of the total, according to the ministry.
The figure was far lower than the 70.9 percent of the participation ratio on the fifth day of a strike back in June 2008.
In the meantime, unionized construction workers also ended their industrial action which started Wednesday, as the ministry decided to accept some of their demands including due payment of wages. Union members who gathered in Seoul for two days for rallies returned to their worksites across the country.