Construction grinds to a halt in Korea as truckers strike

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Construction grinds to a halt in Korea as truckers strike

Seoul Dunchon L&H redevelopment cooperative's construction site in Gangdong District, eastern Seoul, is halted due to ready-mix concrete supply issues on Sunday. [YONHAP]

Seoul Dunchon L&H redevelopment cooperative's construction site in Gangdong District, eastern Seoul, is halted due to ready-mix concrete supply issues on Sunday. [YONHAP]

 
A trucker strike that started last Thursday is affecting construction and the supply of fuel.  
 
A total of 508 construction sites out of 912 had to halt the pouring of ready-mix concrete Monday, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.  
 
“Only 5 percent of the cement and 30 percent of the ready-mix concrete usually produced is being released due to the strike,” said Lee Won-jae, vice minister for Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
 
The ministry expects most construction sites will stop operations due to limited production of ready-mix concrete from Tuesday.
 
A Seoul Dunchon L&H redevelopment cooperative construction site in Gangdong District, eastern Seoul, stopped construction as there was no ready-mix concrete available.
 
“As most ready-mix concrete was not stocked at most sites across the country, we are busying ourselves with other tasks,” said a spokesperson for Seoul Dunchon L&H redevelopment cooperative.
 
“Manufacturing of frames and steel bars is being done instead.”
 
A total of five associations, including the Construction Association of Korea and the Korea Cement Association, signed a statement Monday asking for the return of the striking truckers.  
 
The groups criticized the “selfish action of illegally refusing to work as a group, putting the country’s economy at risk.”
 
A ″no gasoline″ sign stands at a gas station in Seoul on Tuesday morning, amid a truckers strike that began on Nov. 24. [YONHAP]

A ″no gasoline″ sign stands at a gas station in Seoul on Tuesday morning, amid a truckers strike that began on Nov. 24. [YONHAP]

 
Some gas stations in Seoul had to close business earlier than usual on Monday as they ran out of gasoline.
 
“We barely got through the day, but after two to three days, it seems like an appropriate supply of oil will be difficult despite emergency trucks,” a spokesperson from an oil refiner told the JoongAng Ilbo.
 
Some gas stations in Seoul and at highway rest stops, which have high sales, may halt operation over the weekend.  
 
Around 70 percent of tank truck drivers working for oil refiners in Korea are members of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity, a union.
 
Only about 10 percent of truckers working for the four large oil refiners were members of the union in June, when an earlier strike took place, which rose to about 70 percent after the union actively recruited these truckers as its member in the third quarter.  
 
The four largest oil refiners in Korea are SK Innovation, GS Caltex, S-Oil and Hyundai Oilbank.  
 
Some gas stations at highway rest stops, including those on the Yeongdong Expressway, started limiting purchases to 30,000 won or less worth of gas for each car due to the low amount of fuel remaining.  
 
The four oil refiners say most gas stations will run out within two weeks.  
 
Prices of diesel and gasoline could rise due to the strike. The price of diesel sold at gas stations dropped for the first time in seven weeks last week and the price of gasoline has fallen for 11 straight weeks.  
 
“The remaining stock is expected to drop faster than expected due to higher purchases as they are concerned the strike will continue,” said an owner of a gas station in Mapo District, western Seoul.  
 
“If the situation lingers, we need to find an alternative way to supply gas."  
 
Public transportation may also be affected.  
 
Although many public buses use liquefied natural gas and electricity, some village buses in Seoul still run on diesel.
 
The government has formed an emergency team to closely monitor the strike situation and data such as inventory at gas stations.
 
“Gas stations may be the first to face a lack of inventory,” said Park Il-jun, second vice minister of trade, industry and energy. “We will minimize the effect of the strike by sending tank lorries to gas stations that are out of gas.”
 
Striking truckers and the government met for two hours on Monday but failed to reach an agreement. Another meeting is expected to be held on Wednesday.

BY LEE HEE-KWON, HWANG EUI-YOUNG, CHO JUNG-WOO [cho.jungwoo1@joongang.co.kr]
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