(ATTN: ADDS main opposition party's comments)
SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol has likened the ongoing truckers' strike to North Korea's nuclear threat, saying condoning illegal actions will only lead to a vicious cycle, officials said Monday.
Yoon made the comparison during a recent closed-door meeting with his aides, saying the country would not be facing the threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons program it is today had it dealt with Pyongyang under a no nuclear weapons principle, multiple presidential officials told Yonhap News Agency.
"It's the same as North Korea's nuclear threat," he was quoted as saying. "If we bow to illegal actions and violence, the vicious cycle will continue."
Yoon has adopted a zero tolerance approach to the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union's strike, which entered its 12th day Monday.
Last week, he issued a back-to-work executive order against cement truck drivers and on Sunday instructed officials to prepare a second order against truckers in the fuel and steel industries.
The union, which is under the wing of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, has taken collective action for the second time in five months to demand the extension of a freight rate system guaranteeing basic wages.
Refusal to follow the executive order can lead to imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$22,500).
Yoon has made similar references in talking about both North Korea's nuclear threat and the strike.
In October, he said North Korea has "nothing to gain" from its nuclear weapons program, while last month, he said the union has "nothing to gain" from illegal actions.
The ruling People Power Party has also accused the KCTU of serving as a spokesperson for North Korea after the group posted a "message of solidarity" sent by a North Korean labor union on its website.
"It's doubtful whether the KCTU is carrying out labor union activities that conform with the identity of our country and people," one presidential official told Yonhap.
The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) accused Yoon of having a "hostile" view of workers.
"It is horrible that the president felt the cry of those wanting a safe environment for cargo transportation as something equivalent to a nuclear threat," Rep. Oh Yeong-hwan, the DP spokesperson, said.
"We are concerned President Yoon may be considering the labor sector as an enemy and trying to annihilate it," Oh added, noting that workers are not a "subject of suppression" but a "partner for negotiation."
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