Keep on truckin’

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Keep on truckin’

The Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union went on strike early yesterday. People have worried about a cargo crisis and now it has become reality. With truck drivers refusing to work, shipping containers are piling up in ports. More than $6 million worth of export items haven’t been able to leave ports so far.

Beside a row over U.S. beef imports, another economic calamity is taking place.

The stance of the truck drivers is understandable. They say that the more they work, the more money they lose.

All parties involved, however, must keep negotiating to wrap up the situation as quickly as possible. They must consider the powerful economic impact that a cargo strike might bring. The cause of the situation is soaring international oil prices, which is close to causing a national disaster because they are so hard to predict. There is only one solution. If it is inevitable, we should draft measures to minimize damages.

The increase in cargo fees is the major issue between truck owners and shippers. The truck drivers demand a 30 percent increase. Shippers want a 10 percent increase.

We urge both sides to make concessions for the greater good of the nation. Additional subsidies for fuel, another demand by truckers, is an issue for the government to solve. The government must think about equality and fairness among different industries. But this is an emergency.

The government must show flexibility, with certain limits. The cargo union also must refrain from making excessive demands that are hard to implement in reality. The truckers should share the burdens and pursue coexistence. For instance, the demand to cut down gasoline prices is hard for the government to accept immediately.

All parties involved in the case, namely the government, shippers and truckers, must use this time as an opportunity to enhance competitiveness in the cargo industry. There are serious problems in the industry ? oversupply of trucks, too many mediation companies and increases in cargo costs.

All should work together to solve these problems. That is the way to better secure trucker livelihoods in the long term.

The government, as a watchdog of the market, must mediate negotiations between the union and shippers. At the same time, it should punish those who commit illegal acts. The government also must prepare replacement cargo transport means, such as railways, in case the strike goes on for a longer period.
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