Deal reached, demands met . . .
South Korea’s trucker strike ended Tuesday evening with the striking union and the country’s transport ministry reaching an agreement. Last week, one-third of the 22,000-member Cargo Trucker Solidarity Union, part of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, went on national strike. Striking truckers cited rising fuel prices that made driving economically untenable. Their demands included raising freight prices to cover soaring fuel costs and extending the Safe Trucking Freight Rate System (Safe Rates). The agreement will extend the Safe Rates system and provide increased subsidies to offset surging fuel costs. Cargo truckers will immediately return to work.
Safe Rates System . . .
The agreement between the truckers and the transportation ministry was reached after four previous negotiation sessions failed, mainly over the Safe Rates system designed to improve driver safety and wages by limiting overworking, speeding, and fatigue while also guaranteeing a minimum pay rate. It was introduced in 2020 but is set to expire at the end of 2022. Analysts suggest it has had a positive impact on driver safety and working conditions. While truckers were demanding its extension, shippers were pointing to its adverse effects, arguing that it didn’t reduce work hazards and instead raised transport costs.
Testing a new presidency . . .
Only five weeks into Yoon Suk-yeol’s new presidency, his government was tested on how it would respond to strikes that pose a serious threat to the economy – failing to reach an agreement promptly could have sparked animosity between South Korea’s largest unions and the new president. The strike caused C$1.5 billion in damages in its first six days, but they were limited to domestic industries with no reported impact on exports, according to South Korea’s Industry Ministry. A prolonged dispute could have put further pressure on already strained global supply chains. While the agreement paves the way for trucking to resume, rising costs across the economy may leave future grievances on the table.