[EDITORIALS]Both sides must giveThe port of Busan is in effect paralyzed as a result of the strike by independent truck drivers serving the region. The government and the truckers union are in a tense standoff. If the situation degenerates, a violent clash between the two sides and a full-blown paralysis of cargo transportation will be unavoidable.
Before any debate about who is right and who is wrong, the drivers must suspend the strike. They should return to work and then let the search for a solution begin. The truckers should let the public know about their hardship and systemic problems, but they would not be justified in presenting their argument by extreme measures.
There has already been much criticism against the government’s unprincipled approach to the issue and the compromise reached. There are also questions about the drivers’ claim that their net income is less than 1 million won ($830) a month. And it should not be surprising that the income of independent truckers declined as the number of truckers mushroomed -- at a 50 percent clip over four years. But the drivers cannot be let off the hook for taking hostage industrial activities and the national economy to gain higher compensation.
The truckers are demanding a cut in the fuel tax, improvements in the income tax structure and the right to organize as workers. These issues cannot be resolved overnight.
The fallout from the strike is growing fast. Movement of an estimated $340 million in goods has stopped, and a complete shutdown of the port of Busan will likely result in daily losses of $180 million in exports. Cargo vessels headed for Busan are turning to Shanghai and other ports. If the situation continues for long, investors here and abroad will increasingly turn elsewhere, too, and our economy will be pushed further down the decline.
Before the situation deteriorates, there must be a search for coexistence. The truckers must end their strike and begin negotiations with the government. And the negotiators must be given a mandate. The nation cannot afford to have the truckers continue to reject a deal.