Posted August. 21, 2003 21:16,
Members of the Korea Cargo Workers Federation (KCWF) went on a strike again on Aug. 12, demanding higher transportation fees and better terms of contracts. And the collective action is causing grave concern over a logistics upheaval nationwide. KCWF earlier pushed for a collective action in May this year, paralyzing the nation`s transportation system.
The second general strike already began to hit logistics operations hard, with volumes of containers shipped at the Gyeongin Inland Container Depot (IDC) falling more than 50%.
The government warned that the union would face severe punishment if it continues to avoid transporting cargo in a collective manner, which the government sees as an illegal action threatening the economy and the lives of people.
KCWF held a press conference at the Korea Confederation of Trade Union building in Youngdeung-po, Seoul on Aug. 21 and said, ˝We have made every effort to reach a consensus, but the representatives of the BCT (bulk, cement and trailer) companies have failed to engage in negotiations with workers.˝
˝Some 27,000 members of KCWF, as well as BCT unionists, will join the strike,˝ the federation added. ˝But we do not plan to push for no illegal acts of road or harbor blocks.˝
Despite the general strike, negotiations with cargo owners and shipping companies will likely continue. The talks between workers and container owners resumed at 2:00 p.m. on Aug. 21, but the timetable for further negotiations with BCT companies has yet to be set.
Due to the collective action, volumes of containers shipped in and out of Busan Port fell sharply to 60 to 80% of daily average. As workers refuse to ship goods and go home early at the Gyeognin ICD, shipments fell to less than 40% of daily average.
The government held a minister-level meeting presided over by Prime Minister Goh Geon, and warned the freight workers` organization of severe punishment in a statement.
˝The KCWF`s decision to enter a strike is illegal acts of harming a majority of people, although it cites little progress in the talks with BCT firms,˝ said Minister of Construction and Transportation Choi Jong-chan after the meeting. We are considering filing obstruction of justice charges against members who refuse to work, as well as union leaders.˝
˝We will seek arrest warrants if members take to the street and block traffic,˝ said an official at the prosecution.
The government has opened a contingency room formed by related ministries, including the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Energy, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Maritime and Fisheries, in its main complex in Sejong-ro to make concerted effort to avoid a logistics upheaval.
The Railway Corporation began to mobilize additional freight trains, increasing the number of cars to 322. It further plans to inject 280 cars if the strike drags on.