UIWANG, South Korea, Dec 5 (Reuters) – Inside 5 white tents exterior the Uiwang container depot close to Seoul, about 200 putting truckers huddle round fuel heaters, making an attempt to combat the bitter chilly and the federal government narrative that they’re nicely paid “labour aristocracy.”
They’re all too conscious of the affect their strike has had on South Koreans at a time of document inflation. However these drivers, and tens of hundreds of others putting throughout the nation, say their requires stronger minimal pay protections are all that stand between them and poverty.
“We aren’t the enemy. We’re loyal to our nation, as a result of we’re contributing to exports,” stated Kim Younger-chan, a 63-year-old container truck driver transporting exports reminiscent of house home equipment and cosmetics between Uiwang and Busan port. “Our cash is stretched to eat and dwell for a month. Labour aristocracy? That’s nonsense.”
Amid hovering gas prices, as many as 25,000 truckers are calling on the federal government for a everlasting minimum-pay system referred to as the “Secure Freight Charge”, which was launched quickly in 2020 for a small portion of the greater than 400,000 truckers.
President Yoon Suk-yeol has stated his administration wouldn’t give in to what it calls “unjustified calls for” by the truckers union because the second main strike in lower than six months disrupts provides of automobiles, cement and gas. The inside minister and a ruling get together spokesperson have each referred to as the truckers “labour aristocracy”.
Pale and unshaven, the drivers enterprise out of their tents a few occasions a day to chant slogans and hand out leaflets.
Kim stated excessive diesel costs imply their lives are not any higher than in June, after they went on an eight-day strike. He earns about 3 million gained ($2,300) per 30 days, far lower than final yr as a result of diesel costs have almost doubled.
The nation’s shopper costs additionally jumped 5% in November in contrast with a yr earlier.
Kim stated it broke his coronary heart that his spouse, who’s previous retirement age, should work to help the household, mopping flooring and cooking for pay.
“Perhaps our life may be higher if freight charges are steady,” he stated.
The federal government and the union have sat down for talks twice however stay far aside on two key points: extending the minimal pay guidelines past the top of this yr and increasing them to learn extra truckers.
The federal government has particularly stated it is not going to increase minimal pay safety to truckers within the gas and metal industries, saying they’re already nicely paid.
Issues are mounting over shortages of petrol and pricier groceries inflicting financial ache.
Lee Ji-eun, 36, a doctor and mom of two, stated she hurried to gas up her automobile on Thursday over scarcity fears.
“I would like the federal government and the truckers to achieve a deal as quickly as doable. Strikes like this or by subway employees or public officers – that harm is finished straight to unusual folks like me,” Lee stated.
Early within the strike, close to a serious oil storage facility that provides petrol stations in Seoul, a dozen putting tanker drivers had positioned their vehicles to hamper site visitors. On Thursday, they stopped after residents complained.
“I do know persons are getting chilly about this strike, and they’re like, ‘Why once more?'” stated Ham Sang-jun, 49, a driver transporting oil from prime refiner S-Oil Corp (010950.KS) to petrol stations.
As of mid-Friday, 60 petrol stations had run dry, the business ministry stated. Stations nationwide had a mean of a couple of week’s provide, as that they had secured inventory earlier than the strike. learn extra
Together with Ham, about 90% out the 340 tanker drivers contracted to provide S-Oil’s merchandise have walked off the job, in response to Lee Geum-sang, their union chief.
Their households fear they lose their jobs.
Ham, the daddy of two teenagers, earns about 3 million to 4 million gained a month working 12 hours a day, 5 days per week, typically in a single day and weekends. That’s 2 million gained lower than final yr due to gas prices.
“I’m sorry to my spouse and kids, as a result of I’m not a very good father,” he stated. “However we’ve got to maintain up the strike for a greater future 10 years forward.”
Reporting by Ju-min Park and Minwoo Park; Enhancing by Jack Kim and Gerry Doyle
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