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Prolonged Chaos of the National Cargo Transportation System Peaked Today

Prolonged Chaos of the National Cargo Transportation System Peaked Today

Posted August. 24, 2003 21:39,   


With the Cargo Transportation Workers` Union continuing their strike for four consecutive days as of Aug. 24, container shipments in major harbors, such as Busan and Gwangyang, fell sharply. Also, the harbors are almost saturated as cargo is left without being taken away.

Not only the cement industry, which is literally going through a suspension on delivery, but also other industries including the construction, shipbuilding, automobile, and steel industries are suffering increasing losses. Thus, the government decided to hold a related ministers` meeting on Aug. 25 under the supervision of the Prime Minister and discuss measures to deal with the issue.

The Cargo Transportation Workers` Union proposed to resume the bargaining on Aug. 25, but operators of container ships and cargo transportation companies are insisting that they will respond strongly if the truckers do not return to work by Aug. 25. So, Aug. 25 will mark the height of the strike.

According to the statistics collected by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation by Aug. 24, the strike had already taken its toll in reality, with the number of containers moving through Busan Harbor dropping to 57% of normal. Also, with imported cargo not taken out of the port, many ports, including Gamman Harbor and numbers 3 and 4 harbor, are overwhelmed with undelivered containers. Gwangyang Harbor in South Jeonnam Province saw the number of containers moving through dropping to 36% of normal.

Cement factories in North Chungchung Province, Danyang, Kangwon, and the East Coast are anxious with finished products not being delivered to construction sites. The government and the industry are mobilizing truckers who are not unionized, but it is not enough. Construction around the country will, thus, halt soon as they run out of their cement inventories.

The Union sent an official document to the Federation of Container Transportation Firms and Container and Cement Transportation firms on Aug. 24 to resume negotiations on general cargo, container and BTC sectors on Aug. 25. It also asked teh government to start labor-government negotiations.

However, transportation companies said that if the truckers do not return to work by Aug. 25, they would respond strongly by terminating cargo-shipping contracts and asking for compensation. The Korea Employers Federation also demanded the government strictly apply the law regarding the members of the Cargo Transportation Workers` Union.

The government opened a Policy Coordination Meeting on Current National Issues at the official building of the Prime Minister in Jongro-gu, Seoul, on Aug, and agreed to actively recommend negotiations between the Cargo Transportation companies and the Cargo Transportation Workers` Union, while revising Cargo Transportation Business Law to order truckers to return to work.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation is therefore reviewing adoption of a `Return to Work Order System,` with which the government or the court orders the truckers to return to work if the strike inflicts serious damage to national core industries. The Ministry is also considering the adoption of the `Driver Qualification System`, which certifies truck drivers and can suspend or terminate them, if they reject to deliver cargos.

To support companies that are undergoing difficulties in export and shipment, the Ministry of Commerce Industry and Energy is providing lists of around 1060 container and general cargo transportation companies in Korea on its website (www.mocie.go.kr ), as well as on the websites of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (www.korcham.net) and the Korea International Trade Association(www.kita.or.kr).