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Paralyzed Ports in Busan and Gwangyang

Posted May. 11, 2003 22:23,   


Truckers` union in Busan overturned its previous announcement and decided to continue their strike yesterday. Now, it has become a matter of time for ports in Busan to get shut down.

As of yesterday, therefore, all outgoing and incoming containers were left unattended for the third day at ports in Busan and Gwangyang, the two cities that handle 90% of all container cargo. Consequently, exportation was shut down from yesterday, materializing the "export disaster."

As a result, the strike is wreaking more havoc on the South Korean economy day after day. For example, Korea Iron and Steel Company had to watch its furnaces stopped for the first time since its foundation in 1957, due to the halted delivery of the raw materials.

The union in Busan had a rally yesterday morning at Pier Sinseondae, and promised to wage a nationwide general strike starting Tuesday if their negotiation with the government fails to bring about any results by today.

In the meanwhile, all union members in Busan, who handle 50% of all cargoes in that area, began its strike in earnest from yesterday, paralyzing the city port almost to a halt.

The operating rate in the area was 54.8% of its capacity on Friday, 33% on Saturday, and 20% yesterday.

If the strike in Busan should continue for three days or more, the yards where containers are piled up, will be filled to capacity, totally halting "port operations" in the region.

1,000 union members of the Busan area mobilized 900 container trailers yesterday, and had a rally. Then, they demanded the fare be increased, gas price and toll be decreased, resting places along the highway be more constructed for truckers, and licensing procedure be simplified.

Another truckers` union in Gwangyang started walking out on the job from Friday, stopping all import and export cargo handling for three days.

Especially, they plan to wage all-day strikes for two months, starting today. Thus, more serious problems are expected with regard to logistics.

A Hanjin employee, a company that used to handle more than 600 containers a day, said, "For now, loading is OK. But we cannot deliver the cargo out of ports. The yards are almost booked up. In two to three days, loading will also be hampered."

Representatives of the union and transportation companies met yesterday morning and agreed to increase the fare by 15.5% and gradually reduce the size of the commission fee. But at the last moment, they failed to consummate the deal due to the difference over the distribution of the commission.

Consequently, Korea Iron and Steel Company continuously suffered from logistics problems. It was not able to ship out its products as well as take in delivery of raw materials.

Union representatives in other areas continued negotiation yesterday. But they did not come up with any agreement.

Gyeongin union members, who threatened Samsung Electronics with refusal to deliver its products, agreed with it through Samsung`s agent to start negotiation from Tuesday about the fare increase. The union announced that it would not hinder cargo-transportation. Thus, the promised May 12th strike is not to take place.

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