Stop the strike immediatelyThe Cargo Truckers Solidarity started a general strike on Thursday. The union under the combative Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) took action for the second time after an earlier strike in June. Unionized members call for a permanent implementation of the “freight rate system” aimed at ensuring minimum transportation fares for truck owners to prevent overwork and speeding by their drivers while levying fines on cargo owners when they pay less than the minimum fare to truck owners. The system was introduced in 2020, and is scheduled to end by the end of this year.
The truckers union pressed ahead with the strike despite the promise by the government and People Power Party (PPP) to extend the term for the system to another three years. The government and PPP raised doubts about positive effects of the freight rate system, citing the results of a research that point to the opposite direction over the past three years.
Though members of the union are only 6 percent of all 25,000 truckers, the repercussions of their general strike in June was massive. It inflicted a whopping 2-trillion-won ($1.5-billlion) of damage on industries. The government must deal with the strike sternly this time based on law and principles instead of resorting to a quick fix as it did five months ago. In a statement Thursday, the government defined the strike as an “unlawful collective refusal to deliver freight.” The government must strictly deal with the methodical obstruction of truck driving by non-unionized members. The government must exercise its rights to order them to return to work if necessary.
If a strike takes place at individual companies, the government can hardly demand their union restrain from a strike. But this strike is directly related to the entire industry. That’s why the public is uneasy about the strike by truck drivers for their own gains by taking hostage the whole economy. Their radical slogan “Let’s stop the world by stopping transportation!” only helps raise distribution costs for companies, which lowers revenues and export competitiveness.
The Bank of Korea has raised the benchmark rate by a quarter percentage points to moderate the pace of tightening as concerns about a liquidity squeeze and recession arose. It also lowered its estimate for next year’s growth to 1.7 percent from 2.1 percent. The gloomy prospect for the global economy cast dark shadows over our growth potential due to slowed exports. The government strives to improve our worsening trade balance while companies struggle to survive soaring prices, interest rates and exchange rates. The truckers must stop the strike immediately.