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Govt Strikes Deal with KCWF

Posted May. 15, 2003 21:37,   


The government and the Korean Cargo Workers` Federation (KCWF) stroke a dramatic eleventh-hour deal in the early morning of May 15.

And cargo workers went back to work in Pusan Port and the Inland Cargo Depot in Uiwang City, Gyeonggi Province on the news of the agreement, ending the unprecedented crisis in logistics that has almost led to a paralysis of export and import-related transportation.

Now that the government has again succumbed to workers` collective actions following the earlier deals with Doowan Heavy Industries` and Railway Corporation`s labor unions, however, concern is rising over how it will deal with pending labor issues including wage negotiations, which are most certain to put heavy pressure on the government.

The government and KCWF had long marathon talks in Government Complex in Gwacheon starting at 1:30 a.m. and agreed to 11 key points, including provision of subsidies for gasoline taxes, some 4 hours later at 5:30 a.m.

Under the arrangement, the government will increase the amount of the government subsidies beginning July through December this year from the current 50% level up to 100% of the hike in gasoline tax, while raising the tax as initially planned.

It has also agreed to ease the energy tax provision to ensure that subsidies will be delivered to owners of trucks. Cargo workers will also be exempted from paying tax for overtime income.

The government and the federation have agreed to work closely to provide the three labor rights for special contracted employees like cargo workers. The tollgate fee discount hours will be extended by two hours from the current 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. on the following day. The extension will go into effect before May 22 as demanded by KCWF.

The federation held a general meeting at Students` Center in Pusan University in the early morning after closing the deal with the government, and voted in favor of resumption of work overwhelmingly. With the development in Pusan, members working in Gyeongin ICD, Woolsan, Dangjin and Seosan also went back to work.

The ratio of transportation operations in Pusan Port, therefore, topped 50% on May 15 compared to 44.6% a day earlier, with that in Gyeongin ICD rising to 65 to 70% from 40%.

˝With the port filled with containers to be transported, it will take about 3 weeks for operations to be fully normalized,˝ said officials at the port.

Meantime, the police withdrew 40 units of SWAT force dispatched to key locations in Pusan City, and decided to put on hold execution of arrest warrants against 7 key members of the federation, fearing the arrests could spark another confrontation.