SEOUL: South Korean truckers voted on Friday to end a weeks-long strike that has hammered supply chains and businesses in Asia's fourth largest economy.

The strike, which started on Nov 24 over minimum pay, delayed the supply of goods worth an estimated 3.5 trillion won ($2.65 billion) in its first 12 days, according to Seoul's trade ministry.

President Yoon Suk-yeol slammed the action as “a danger to the economy” and on Thursday the government ordered truckers in the fuel and steel sectors to return to work or face the possibility of jail or a fine.

“A majority of votes were cast in favour of ending the strike and returning to work,“ the 25,000-strong Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union said in a statement.

Over 60 percent of those who voted supported ending the strike, according to the Yonhap news agency.

With fuel prices rising, the drivers had demanded the government make permanent a “safe freight rate” minimum pay scheme, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

The government said last month it would extend the programme for three years but truckers say more of them will become vulnerable to overwork and safety risks without a permanent minimum wage guarantee.

South Korea has one of the highest industrial fatality rates for a rich economy, with more than 4,000 work-related deaths reported from 2020 to last year, according to Seoul's labour ministry. - AFP

Clickable Image
Clickable Image
Clickable Image