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Delivery workers resume rally for 2nd day amid stalled talks on preventing overwork

National 14:32 June 16, 2021

SEOUL, June 16 (Yonhap) -- Thousands of unionized delivery workers continued their strike for a second day in Seoul on Wednesday, calling on logistics firms to implement an agreement on preventing overwork.

Around 4,000 workers belonging to the Parcel Delivery Workers' Solidarity Union resumed their protest, after spending a night outdoors in tents or on mats at Yeouido Park, western Seoul.

The overnight protest was timed with the resumption of the final meeting over the implementation of overwork prevention measures.

In the afternoon, the union, the government and logistics firms are scheduled to meet again to hammer out an agreement.

Unionized delivery workers stage the second day of their protest demanding logistics firms implement an agreement on preventing overwork at Yeouido Park in western Seoul on June 16, 2021. (Yonhap)

It is reported that the three parties have made good progress on many contentious points, including the date from which couriers are freed from sorting parcels. But the negotiation has dragged on, partly due to demands by postal service workers that a final draft specifically mention that Korea Post, the national postal service, will implement an agreement.

"Korea Post has demanded excessive parcel delivery from its workers and shifted the responsibility for work-related accidents to workers," they said in a press conference held in front of the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Postal service workers have reported their company for violating the Labor Standards Act.

Unionized delivery workers spend a night outdoors at Yeouido Park in western Seoul, demanding logistics firms implement an agreement on preventing overwork on June 15, 2021. (Yonhap)

The union launched an indefinite walkout last Wednesday after talks with the government and logistics firms on implementing a January deal fell through.

Under the agreement, the companies had agreed to provide extra workers to sort parcels and take other steps to ease the burden on couriers, who have long complained of overwork from sorting parcels before delivery and doing so without additional pay.

The January deal was reached by the union, logistics companies and the government after 16 delivery workers died last year apparently due to overwork.

The agreement also calls on logistics firms to provide extra payment to workers for sorting parcels and to work to automate the job.

Postal service workers protest in the lobby of Post Tower in Yeouido, western Seoul, on June 14, 2021. (Yonhap)

On Tuesday, the Seoul Metropolitan Police unsuccessfully ordered the protesters to disperse, citing an unlawful assembly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. They said the city government will lodge a complaint with the police against the union for violating the Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Act later in the day.

"As thousands of people have assembled in Yeouido, concerns have grown that the efforts by the people and the government to stop the spread of the virus could go to waste," police said, adding they will act sternly against "illegal acts" that could put society at risk.

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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