Respect Korean truck drivers’ rightsYour readers must be informed as to what will be the real effect if the government’s proposed deregulation of the transport market goes ahead (“A nonsensical strike,” an editorial in the Oct. 11 edition of Korea JoongAng Daily). It will result in more deaths on the roads in truck crashes. This is because deregulation will lead to a free-for-all in the market which will lower rates for truck drivers, putting pressure on them to speed, drive longer hours, skip breaks and overload their vehicles.
Already almost 1,200 people die in truck-related crashes in South Korea every year. If the Government pushes ahead with its plan this figure will no doubt rise. Drivers are refusing to accept this and have therefore taken action by striking. Several protesters have been arrested and injured but they fight on for justice.
We in the international community are watching events closely and hoping that the government will respect the drivers’ right to strike and negotiate with them. The United Nations labour body, the International Labor Organization, has recognized Korean drivers’ right to organise and to be paid safe rates, so they can maintain their vehicles and safely carry out their work.
It is incumbent on the government to also recognize these rights. Because truck drivers will not be the only ones to lose out if these rights are ignored. Other road users will ultimately also lose out.
Chair, road transport section, International Transport Workers’ Federation, Australia