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[Editorial] Trucker Strike a Threat

Posted December. 05, 2006 07:07,   

Updated November. 30, -0001 00:00


The walkout of unionized truck drivers has led to indiscriminate attacks on the road, aggravating the situation. Freight trucks belonging to non-union members were set afire for the second consecutive day yesterday in a number of highway parking lots in cities like Busan and Cheonan. A placard reading, “Death for Non-participation” was put on cargo trucks, large nails were hammered into tires, and cargo truck drivers were attacked with stones. As non-union drivers who were feared of a possible attack did not work yesterday, the volume of cargo transportation at Busan Port, Gwangynag Port, Pyeongtaek Port and Uiwang Inland Container Depot dropped over 50 percent on Monday.

Experts point out that the Korean economy, struck by the violent demonstrations on November 22 by anti-FTA protesters, may be further hampered by another cargo transportation crisis. The members of the Korea Cargo Transport Workers Union (KCTWU) are laughing at the lukewarm response of the government, waging a propaganda campaign during the daytime and tormenting non-union truckers with guerrilla tactics during the night.

The cargo union is planning to hold a joint demonstration with unionized dump truck drivers on Tuesday afternoon in front of the National Assembly building. Although the KCTWU argues that it has not ordered any violence or arson, its leadership should be held responsible for the consequences, even if their statement is true.

So what has the government done to resolve the situation? Although the police say that they will implement tough measures, it sounds like nothing but a bluff. Their determination to deter the anti-FTA demonstration on November 29 seems to have all vanished. The fixed charge system that the KCTWU demands is not right and, since the owners of cargo trucks are self-employed, the three basic labor rights cannot be applied to them, as any other self-employed people. Yet, despite the reality, union drivers are continuously refusing to get back to work. On the contrary, non-union drivers who struggle to make an honest living are being physically threatened.

The government must take a stern measure according to the law and principle. The government’s lukewarm attitude is largely responsible for prevailing illegal and violent demonstrations by an increasing number of interest groups, including the KCTWU. The government must take a stern response on violent and illegal strikes and vandalism by establishing strict limits in accordance with the law, while guaranteeing legitimate labor demonstrations as much as possible. The situation has become so out of hand that the government may have to declare a war against illegal demonstrations to protect its authority and the rights of the people.