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(LEAD) Railway workers to go on three-day strike from Friday

National 17:08 October 10, 2019

(ATTN: CHANGES headline and lead; ADDS more info in paras 1-4)

SEOUL, Oct. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korean railway workers will begin a three-day strike Friday to press their demands for higher pay and better working conditions, the transport ministry said Thursday.

The Korea Railroad Corp.'s (KORAIL) labor union plans to walk out from 9 a.m. Friday through 9 a.m. Monday, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

The 19,000-member KORAIL union decided to strike early last month, after its negotiations with the company broke down in late August. The company did not come up with any improved solutions.

The ministry called on customers who booked a ticket during the period to cancel their plans or change them. Out of some 96,000 tickets reserved for the 72-hour strike period, 62,000 have been canceled but 33,900 have yet to be canceled, the ministry said.

The government plans to deploy substitute workers and alternative forms of transportation to minimize disruption, as the walkout is expected to cut passenger and cargo train operations by 20 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

The union demands the company raise allowances, hire more workers and improve the job status of safety staff and affiliate companies' employees. The two sides had 12 rounds of talks starting in May but failed to reach an agreement.

The transport ministry projects the strike is likely to reduce intercity subway operations to 88.1 percent of the normal level, high-speed train services to 81.8 percent and conventional train services to 60 percent. Cargo railway operations are expected to be cut to 36.8 percent.

The government has said it will take emergency measures to reduce transport disruption including deploying non-union railway workers and military staff to run subway and high-speed trains.

The authorities will also utilize express and inter-city buses and get cargo trains to prioritize import and export freight and key industrial goods.

This photo taken Oct. 7, 2019, shows passengers in front of ticket booths at Seoul Station as KTX train services are delayed by a railway workers' work-to-rule campaign. (Yonhap)


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