Truckers go nuts on strikebreakers
At around 10 a.m. yesterday in Gamman-dong, Busan, an 8.5-ton cargo truck loaded with export items came to a sudden stop.
The 57-year-old truck driver surnamed Park was heading to a nearby dock when the driver’s side window shattered, sending glass into the cab.
Park pulled his truck over to the side of the road and found a metal hexagonal nut lying on the passenger seat.
He thought to himself that if the nut had hit his face and he lost control of the truck it would have caused a major accident what with all the other cars on the street.
“I was really shocked. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to drive again,” Park said in a phone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo.
On the fourth day of the nationwide truckers strike yesterday, there were several attacks on non-union truckers.
At a similar hour, two trucks driven by Kim, 61, and Yoon, 41, were attacked - their front and back windows broken out. They were also heading to nearby docks with export goods.
“We have secured CCTV footage and we are currently investigating whether or not the unionists of the Korean Transport Workers’ Union [under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions] were involved in the attack and if they were the ones who fired the nuts using slingshots to interrupt non-union members’ service,” said a police official.
The Korean Transport Workers’ Union launched an official strike nationwide on Monday, four months after they decided to organize it in February.
On the eve of the strike, a total of 27 cargo trucks and trailers owned by non-union members in the Yeongnam regions including Ulsan and Busan were burned.
The police suspect the arson was committed by members of the union in order to prevent non-union truckers from continuing operations.
Among the unionists’ several demands to the government include a 30 percent increase in transportation fees and industrial accident compensation insurance for all truckers.
The first time union workers used slingshots against non-union workers was in 2003 when the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions held a general strike. They put one- to two-centimeter (0.3- to 0.7-inch) nuts into an iron tripod and launched them with rubber bands. The nuts that were found yesterday were similar to ones that were used in 2003.
In 2008 and 2009 when the Korean Transport Workers’ Union had their annual strike, they used slingshots to shoot steel balls to attack non-union members that didn’t participate in the strike.
The police said that an attack using a slingshot could bring severe injury as it has the power to pierce safety helmets if shot properly.
The police also found illegal weapons being used yesterday such as steel pipes, raising concerns that the truckers’ strike could lead to a violent protest.
Yesterday, the police found three steel pipes, three long wooden sticks, 13 bamboo sticks and 4.5 liters of gasoline inside a one-ton truck near the Busan terminal. The truck was driven by a union member surnamed Choi.
“I was asked by a senior member of the union to transfer materials used for protest activities,” Choi stated to the police.
The police also yesterday filed an arrest warrant against Park Won-ho, 50, the head of the Busan branch of the union group, for interrupting daily business of non-union members and also booked six others without detention on similar charges.
By We Sung-wook, Lee Eun-joo[firstname.lastname@example.org]
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