South Korea president warns of crackdown as trucker strike enters second day

By Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) -South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned the federal government would possibly step in to interrupt up a nationwide strike by truckers, describing it as an unlawful and unacceptable transfer to take the nationwide provide chain “hostage” throughout an financial disaster.

Thousands of unionised truckers kicked off their second main strike searching for higher pay and dealing situations in lower than six months on Thursday. The motion is already disrupting provide chains the world over’s Tenth-largest economic system, affecting automakers, the cement trade and metal producers.

Union officers mentioned there have been no negotiations or dialogue ongoing with the federal government. The nation’s transport ministry mentioned it requested dialogue with the union on Thursday, however the events have but to agree on a date.

Union officers estimated about 25,000 folks had been becoming a member of the strike, out of about 420,000 whole transport employees in South Korea. The transport ministry mentioned about 7,700 folks had been anticipated to rally for the strike on Friday in 164 areas nationwide, down from 9,600 folks on Thursday.

“The public won’t tolerate taking the logistics system hostage within the face of a nationwide disaster,” Yoon mentioned in a Facebook message late on Thursday, noting that exports had been key to overcoming financial instability and monetary market volatility.

“If the irresponsible denial of transport continues, the federal government could have no alternative however to assessment a quantity of measures, together with a piece begin order.”

According to South Korean legislation, throughout a critical disruption to transportation the federal government might subject an order to power transport employees again to their jobs. Failure to conform is punishable by as much as three years of jail, or a nice of as much as 30 million received ($22,550).

Were the federal government to take this selection, it might be the primary time in South Korean historical past such a order is issued. Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong instructed reporters on Thursday that the ministry has already begun groundwork for issuing the order.

The strike comes after South Korea noticed October exports fall probably the most in 26 months as its commerce deficit endured for a seventh month, underlining the slowdown in its export-driven economic system.

Amid the financial gloom, Yoon’s approval ranking remained principally flat for the fifth week at 30%, based on Gallup Korea on Friday, though his give attention to financial affairs obtained a constructive response.

‘HARD-LINE RESPONSE’

The head of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union (CTSU), Lee Bong-ju, mentioned the truckers had no alternative however to strike after the federal government stalled negotiations.

“The Yoon Suk-yeol authorities is threatening a hard-line response with none efforts to cease the strike,” Lee instructed reporters on Thursday.

On the primary day of the strike, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) mentioned it obtained 19 reviews of circumstances of disrupted logistics. These included incapability to herald uncooked supplies, greater logistics prices and supply delays resulting in penalties and commerce with abroad consumers being scrapped.

In one occasion, uncooked supplies for a chemical firm had been delivered beneath police safety after the transport automobile was blocked by placing truckers from getting into a manufacturing unit, KITA mentioned.

The cement trade sustained an output loss of an estimated 19 billion received ($14.26 million) on Thursday, foyer group Korea Cement Association mentioned, after shipments slumped to lower than 10,000 tonnes as a result of strike.

This compares with South Korea’s 200,000 tonnes of cement demand per day within the peak season between September and early December. Construction websites are in danger of operating out of constructing supplies after the weekend.

The trade ministry mentioned the metal sector additionally noticed shipments drop on Thursday. POSCO, the nation’s largest steelmaker, declined to touch upon the extent.

Meanwhile, employees at Hyundai Motor’s Ulsan manufacturing unit are anticipated to drive about 1,000 new vehicles to clients instantly on Friday, after delivering about 50 vehicles on Thursday, a consultant of a separate union on the manufacturing unit instructed Reuters. So far there was no impression on auto output, the official mentioned.

Drivers recruited by Hyundai Motor’s logistics affiliate Hyundai Glovis additionally started delivering some Kia Corp vehicles by driving them instantly from Kia’s Gwangju plant to clients, a Kia official instructed Reuters.

The official did not say what number of Kia vehicles can be delivered on to consumers.

($1 = 1,332.4700 received)

(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang; Additional reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Editing by Gerry Doyle and Kenneth Maxwell)

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