[EDITORIALS]Truckers take wrong turnIndependent truckers with the Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union are vowing to go on strike again on Aug. 20. They disrupted industrial transportation with a strike just three months ago, and it is a serious problem that they are going to take collective action again. With the ongoing strike at Hyundai Motor Co., a truckers strike would create further problems for an economy already in trouble.
The truckers say they have no choice. They say the agreement reached with the government that ended the strike in May is not being carried out because of insincerity on the government’s part. Of the 11 items agreed on then, the truckers are especially unhappy about the lack of progress on negotiations with trucking companies on a pay increase. They say the government, which signed the agreement, is not serious about putting it to work. The government says that its responsibility is to improve the system. Cargo owners, trucking companies and the truckers themselves have to work on pay increases.
The government has asked the cargo owners to cooperate. But the truckers refuse to bargain with them, saying the government is trying to evade its responsibility.
It is true that the negotiations are not easy as the size and financial capacity of cargo owners and trucking companies vary widely and the status of truck drivers is not that of a laborer but an independent contractor. But that does not mean the government should not become involved. We must not forget the crisis in May, which paralyzed industrial transportation. The situation got out of hand because the government did not step in to mediate early enough. The government must step in to mediate as much as it can within the bounds of law and trade customs to prevent a repeat of the debilitating interruptions.
The truckers must also think about the consequence of their actions and refrain from using their power to bring the nation to a standstill. They must engage the cargo owners and trucking firms in serious talks. They must remember public opinion and the government’s posture toward labor unrest have changed since the recent rail strike.