Bus drivers' strikes averted in Seoul and other major citiesNationwide strikes by unionized city bus drivers were withdrawn or postponed in last-minute negotiations held just hours before and after the deadline on Tuesday.
In Seoul, Busan and three other regions, unions of bus drivers and their employers reached deals on wage hikes at the last minute prior to the suspension of city bus services.
Unionized drivers in Gyeonggi and Daegu decided to postpone strikes slated to begin Tuesday or Wednesday after holding last-minute talks with bus operators.
In Seoul, the compromise was reached at 1:25 a.m., just two and a half hours before about 18,600 unionized drivers were to stage a walkout to halt the operations of 98 percent of all city buses in the capital.
The drivers union and bus operators agreed on a 5 percent pay hike after more than 10 hours of negotiations.
Hit by the coronavirus pandemic, bus operators across the country did not raise wages last year.
In recent negotiations, they rejected drivers' demands for pay hikes and offered a freeze for the second consecutive year, citing the Covid-19-related decrease in the number of passengers and financial deterioration.
In Busan, the nation's second-largest city, the drivers union and bus companies also agreed on a 5 percent wage increase early Tuesday morning after 13 hours of negotiations.
Bus drivers in South Gyeongsang, the city of Changwon in South Gyeongsang and on Jeju Island agreed on pay hikes of 3.2 percent, 7.5 percent and 3 percent, respectively, between late Monday night and early Tuesday morning to avert their planned work stoppage.
In Gyeonggi, drivers at 36 bus companies that account for more than 40 percent of the region's city bus services decided to withdraw their walkout plan after their employers and the provincial government promised to make all-out efforts to improve their working conditions.
The province's unionized drivers have demanded a wage increase of 14.4 percent and the implementation of a full five-day workweek.
In Daegu, unionized drivers decided to hold another round of negotiations with their employers Tuesday afternoon before going on a strike on Wednesday.