Go to contents

No End In Sight for Subway Strike

Posted July. 21, 2004 22:14,   


Despite the subway labor unions’ strike that began at 4 a. m. yesterday in four major cities, Seoul, Busan, Incheon, and Daegu, no big problems have occurred in subway operations thanks to emergency measures taken by municipal organizations.

However, in some regions, tiny inconveniences like prolonged running intervals and a lack of information broadcasts in trains bothered passengers.

The Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation (SMSC), meanwhile, held a personnel committee meeting yesterday where they decided to deprive 25 labor union executive members, including chief Heo Seop, of their positions, and accused them of violating relevant laws and disturbing subway operations.

The prosecution said that it regarded the strike as unlawful behavior and would seek an arrest warrant for executive members of three labor unions, including those in Seoul and Incheon.

Seoul City Mayor Lee Myung-bak also made a statement, exhorting subway workers to return to work

“There was no significant inconvenience.” Yesterday, the first day of the strike, Incheon and Seoul subways were running as though nothing had happened.

The Seoul city government said, “We injected 6,518 extra workers--4,030 to the Seoul Metropolitan Subway Corporation and 2,488 to the Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRTC)--and 50 percent of unionized workers, an estimated 15,000, have returned to work,” adding, “For a while, normal operations will be assured.”

Despite such efforts, a shortage of manpower in some sections has been felt.

Kim, 65, who was going to Seoul Station on Subway Line 4, said, “It is worrisome for elders like me to use the subway without relying on guiding broadcasts.”

Besides, even though the Busan Subway’s overall operation, where 438 extra workers were injected, was quite impeccable, an operational glitch was found due to the delay of discounted ticket sales for seniors in Seomyoen Station and Jangsan Station.

The Daegu Subway, meanwhile, was running with little confusion as it reduced transit allot rate into 4.3 percent and most middle and high school started summer vacation.

The strike is highly unlikely to end soon. The labor unions of the SMSC (subway lines 1 to 4) and the SMRTC (subway line 5 to 8) resumed negotiations with management. However, the gap between the two is so wide that they are unlikely to reach an agreement.

Busan Subway also resumed negotiations in the afternoon yesterday, but little progress has been made. Incheon and Daegu Subway negotiations did not restart at all.

Na Sang-pil, spokesman of Orbit Solidarity, an allied organization of the five subway labor unions, said, “Whether or not the strike ends soon is contingent upon management,” adding, “We will continue negotiations with management, focusing on an amendment crafted by the labor union on Tuesday.”

The sources from SMSC suggested plans, according to which the labor unions and the management will cooperate to tackle the issue of supplementing personnel until November by making the best use of current manpower and seeking outsourced labor under the agreement of management and the labor unions.