Cement News

South Korea government orders striking truckers in cement industry back to work


SINGAPORE (ICIS)–South Korea’s government
issued on Tuesday an executive order to force
protesting unionised truckers serving the
cement industry to return to work, taking into
account a huge number of halted construction
projects because of the nationwide strike.

The order – the first to be issued under the
Trucking Transport Business Act of 2004 – was
approved on Tuesday during a cabinet meeting
led by President Yoon Suk Yeol, as the
truckers’ strike entered its sixth day.

Failure to comply with the order can lead to
cancellation of licenses and imprisonment of up
to three years or a fine of up to Korean won
(W) 30m ($23,000).

The first round of negotiations between the
South Korean government and the truckers’ union
ended with no deal on 28 November, with next
round of negotiations scheduled on 30 November.

“The government has carefully reviewed the
damage caused by the prolonged refusal of
collective transportation by the Korea Cargo
Solidarity, and as a result of comprehensively
collecting opinions from related ministries
such as the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries
and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy,
cement shipments have decreased by about 90-95%
compared to normal,” the Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure and Transport said in a
statement on Tuesday.

“Construction is expected to be suspended at
most construction sites across the country due
to disruptions in cement transportation and
suspension of ready-mixed concrete production,”
it said.

The increase in construction cost and financial
costs would most likely cause a serious crisis
in the construction industry and the overall
national economy, the ministry said.

The order “would be applied first to the cement
sector, which is deemed urgent to be normalized
in consideration of the scale of damage and
industrial ripple effects”, it said.

Unmet deliveries in the South Korean cement
industry in the first four days of the
truckers’ strike had cost W46.4bn ($35m), news
agency Yonhap reported on 28 November.

This is the second time this year that the
Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union (CTSU), which
is affiliated with the Korean Confederation of
Trade Unions, launched a nationwide protest,
calling for the extension of the “Safe Trucking
Freight Rate” policy beyond December this year.

In June, economic damage from the eight-day
truckers’ strike was estimated
at $1.2bn.

The policy introduced in 2020 guarantees a
minimum annual wage for truckers, to help them
cope with surging fuel costs and to deter
dangerous driving. But it is due to expire at
the end of this year unless lawmakers pass a
legislation for the policy to continue.

The CTSU in a statement on 28 November its
members have no plans to comply if such an
order was given and plans to hold more than a
dozen rallies nationwide.

Focus articles by Nurluqman
Suratman

Thumbnail image: Piled-up containers at a
port in Busan, South Korea amid truckers’
strike on 28 November 2022. (By Hwa
Kyung-min/AP/Shutterstock)

($1 = W1,327)


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