Three simultaneous strikes by rail workers, truckers and bunker fuel tanker operators have severely disrupted operations at South Korea’s major ports, according to Port Technology.
An ongoing rail strike, in which some 7,000 members of the rail union have stopped work across the country for the third week in a row, has halved the country’s rail capacity and severely impacted the ability for containers to move smoothly to and from Korea’s major ports.
In addition, the South Korean Cargo Transport Workers’ Federation launched a general strike on October 10th in opposition to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure & Transport’s cargo transport industry reform plan announced in August this year. According to the plan, the South Korean government is to stop controlling the number of small cargo trucks for business use so that the shortage of vehicles in the parcel delivery service market can be dealt with. The federation is calling for the government to repeal the plan.
A general strike launched by the Cargo Truckers Solidarity union has removed a third of container transport capacity at Busan alone, in addition to the problems already being experienced with rail freight.
Launched in response to government attempts to deregulate the number of small trucks used for making deliveries to homes, drivers want a standard rate to be introduced for the work they do, to protect their livelihoods.
To add to the misery for ports, fuel bunker operators at the ports of Busan, Ulsan, and Yeosu have gone on strike, demanding an increase in operating fees paid by refiners. More than 200 out of 680 bunker tankers across South Korea have been striking.
However today, the barge owners have ended a week-long strike as they reached an agreement with oil refiner, the maritime ministry said on Monday.
The barge owners had called for a 40%-100% hike in operating fees, but accepted the compromise of a 10%-20% increase in fees. In return, oil refiners accepted a government’s proposal for research to be conducted by external specialists on the level of operating fees and other conditions for barge owners.
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