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Strike Cuts Korean Harbor Cargo 50%

Posted December. 05, 2006 07:07,   


December 4 marks the fourth consecutive day of the Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union’s walkout and the damage is materializing now with the cargo transportation of main harbors like Busan and Gwangyang decreasing by half.

The Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union has been trying to obstruct the transportation of cargo not affiliated with the union by setting fire to automobiles, by scattering nails on the road, or by other illegal means that have totaled up to 67 crimes, with 25 suspects under police investigation.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation and the police are preparing for an extension of the walkout by mobilizing alternative trucks and creating a protection policy for the transportation of non-unionized trucks.

According to the police, the union held a protest on Monday with 1,580 participants from 12 areas nationwide in a continuation of the walkout. On the same day, 30 union-affiliated laborers protested in front of the Busan Shinseondae Container Terminal, blocking off trailer traffic. The cargo transportation total at the Shinseondae Container Terminal was only 30 percent of its usual amount.

The general strike also continued with five people, including union member Choi (37), accused of severing the oil pressure gauge of the truck of a non-union driver named Lee (44), on December 4 at around 2:00 a.m. on the roads near Gwangyang Taein Park.

At around 1:10 p.m., truck drivers discovered 20 to 30 10-centimeter nails strewn across the roads of Daehan Aluminum at Ulsan factories and near the Seoktan Wharf at the Ulsan harbor at 10 to 20-meter intervals, and contacted the police.

In Busan on the same date, 2 trucks were set on fire in what appeared to be an act of arson.

Also, the Pohang Nambu police station requested arrest warrants for 2 union members for throwing stones at the front window of a non-unionized freight truck passing through the roads in front of Pohang Steel on December 3 at 11:40 p.m.

The damage is stacking up, with the transportation total for December 4 at Busan, Incheon, and Gwangyang operating at only 50 to 70 percent of its usual rate.

The car owner of 100 trucks at the Kumho Tires Gwangju factory did not participate in transport activities due to the threats of the union to his 90 trucks, and failed to take out 3 billion won in daily cargo.

As for Samsung Electronics in Gwangju, which dispatches 150 to 200 containers everyday to Busan harbor and Gwangyang harbor, transport was suspended on December 4 and 40 containers of products were left unmoved.

The Ministry of Construction and Transportation cargo team supervisor Gu Ja-myeong said, “The transported cargo amount has decreased, but with news of the upcoming walkout, the urgent cargo were sent off last month and the damage to transportation isn’t serious.”

The Union announced that if standard tariff, labor rights, and other demands are not granted at the Assembly Construction and Transportation hearing on December 5, they will form an alliance with the Democratic Labor Party and hold a mass protest on December 6 in front of Busan Station to launch a more hardline strike.