A nonsensical strikeCargo Truckers Solidarity, a division of the mighty Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union, has kicked off a general strike.
Following an earlier strike by the Korean Railway Workers’ Union (KRWU), the truckers’ union on Monday threatened to paralyze all cargo transportation by road. If they staged a strike for valid reasons, it could earn public sympathy, as it did in 2008 when a considerable number of citizens sympathized with them when they claimed, “The more we drive trucks, the more we lose” due to then-skyrocketing oil prices.
This time, however, we cannot find any rationale for their action. The truckers’ union vehemently opposes the government’s plan to increase small-sized trucks as a result of the remarkable expansion of home delivery services in Korea. But most of the union members on strike are owners of large container trucks. In other words, they don’t have stakes here. Even while the obvious victims — the owners of small trucks that can carry less than a 1.5 ton freight — keep silent, their counterparts are staging a strike. The government also took measures to better protect the rights of large-truck owners when they choose to receive pay after registering their trucks with big trucking companies.
The solidarity’s collective rejection of transportation under such circumstances is nothing but a show of force on the sidelines of the strikes of KRWU. Moreover, their action is different from labor unions’ attempt to financially damage the management, because that’s an action to directly damage our national economy by paralyzing logistics.
To make matters worse, the Korean economy is suffering from the massive fallout of the Hanjin Shipping crisis. The Busan headquarters of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions even staged a rally last Friday to ensure the survival of union members in the city and complained about a possibility of the collapse of the local maritime shipping industry. The solidarity’s walkout in such a dire situation deserves public outrage as they closed their eyes to the deepening plight of other workers. The union must end its nonsensical strike as soon as possible.
It is fortunate that the number of union members participating in the walkout is smaller than before. The government’s preparations for the walkout also helped ease the pain. At a time like this, the government must call for public patience, establish emergency systems and reject the union’s reckless demands. That’s the only way to put an end to their habitual and opportunistic strikes once and for all.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 11, Page 34