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Truckers' strike cripples shipments in cement, steel industries

All News 11:07 November 25, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 25 (Yonhap) -- The nationwide strike by truck drivers has affected logistics of the cement and steel industries, the industry ministry said Friday, a move that could further disrupt operations of broader industry sectors.

On Thursday, truck drivers went on a strike, demanding that the government extend temporary rules guaranteeing minimum freight rates, citing high fuel prices. The rules are set to expire at the end of this year.

In response, the ministry set up an emergency task force and held a first meeting on Thursday to assess the impacts on major industry sectors, including steel, auto, petrochemical and energy fields, and devise responses to minimize damage.

According to their assessment, the steel and cement industries have experienced delays in cargo shipments, though other sectors have not yet seen major disruptions by the collective action.

The cement industry is feared to suffer greater damage soon, as cement firms, in general, have storage space for about two days worth of inventory, which would further affect construction sites and other fields, according to the ministry.

The government vowed to push for measures to secure alternative means of transportation and help expand storage spaces at factories while enhancing the monitoring of impacts and seeking compensation measures.

It is the second strike by truck drivers this year as truckers staged an eight-day walkout in June, which resulted in massive delays in cargo shipments and production disruptions worth around 1.6 trillion won (US$1.21 billion).

In June, the government agreed to work on the extension of the minimum wage system, while the union called for making the system permanent.

South Korea's trade association said it has received 32 complaints from 19 shippers since the strike began. Penalties from shipment delays and loss of foreign clients accounted for the most, followed by increased shipment costs, among others, according to the Korea International Trade Association.

Truck cabs are parked along a road in front of a container terminal in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Nov. 24, 2022, as unionized truckers affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions launched a nationwide strike to demand the government permanently scrap the phaseout of a temporary freight rate system guaranteeing a basic wage for truck drivers. (Yonhap)

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