Truckers’ union in South Korea votes to end strike amid gov’t, public pressure

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SEOUL – South Korean truckers have voted to end a nationwide strike that has disrupted supply chains of key export industries, their union announced on Friday.

About 62 per cent of union members voted to call off the strike, according to a text message from the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union.

That came after the government on Thursday ordered striking truckers in the steel and petrochemical industries back to work.

As many as 25,000 unionised truckers and some non-union drivers went on strike on Nov 24 to call on the government to make a minimum wage programme permanent and wider in scope.

But as the government increased pressure, more truckers – faced with the prospect of losing their jobs and sources of income – headed back to work this week,

The truckers’ strike had added to worries after South Korea’s exports fell the most in two-and-a-half years in November, dragged down by an economic slowdown in China and cooling demand for semiconductors.

South Korea is emerging as one of the most visible hot spots for growing labour discontent, as workers around the world demand safer conditions and better wages in the face of soaring food and commodities prices.

The public appears to have backed the government’s hardline approach to the strike.

President Yoon Suk-yeol’s support rate rose two percentage points to 33 per cent in a weekly tracking poll by Gallup Korea, to reach its highest level since mid-September.

Separate polling has shown the public wants truckers to reach a deal and get back to work.

Since Nov 24, the truckers had been protesting a lack of progress on wage demands after months of negotiations following a previous work stoppage in June.

The union attempted to expand and extend a system that calculates minimum wages based on operating costs, including fuel prices.

The union demanded the government legislate a three-year extension of the current wage system that is set to expire at the end of 2022.

While the government previously agreed to the extension, Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong said on Friday the agreement is...

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