South Korea: Fuel Runs Short At Petrol Stations As Truckers Strike

As of Monday, nearly 100 petrol stations across South Korea had run out of fuel due to a trucker strike that began on Nov. 24. The strike has reportedly disrupted the country's supply chain and cost around $2.5B in lost shipments so far.

South Korea: Fuel Runs Short At Petrol Stations As Truckers Strike
Image credit: Yonhap [via Reuters]

Facts

  • As of Monday, nearly 100 petrol stations across South Korea had run out of fuel due to a trucker strike that began on Nov. 24. The strike has reportedly disrupted the country's supply chain and cost around $2.5B in lost shipments so far.
  • This is the second strike in less than six months, with some 25K truckers demanding the government provide a permanent minimum-pay system amid soaring fuel costs. Although the union and government have had two negotiation sessions, there's been no breakthrough.
  • On Tuesday, a thousand unionized workers, including members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), rallied to support truckers who've been calling on the government to extend temporary rules ensuring minimum freight rates that are set to expire this year.
  • This comes as the government announced Monday that it would initiate "administrative and criminal punishment procedures" for companies and truckers not complying with the work-start order issued Nov. 28. The Cargo Truckers' Solidarity Division (TruckSol) has demanded it be overturned.
  • If those receiving return-to-work orders from the government fail to comply, they could be jailed for three years, face fines, and have their licenses suspended or revoked.
  • A survey from Realmeter showed that Pres. Yoon Suk-yeol's approval rating rose for the second week, as he's taken a hardline stance on the strike, even comparing it to the North Korean nuclear threat.

Sources: Reuters, Al Jazeera, Yna, Hani, Korea Joongang Daily, and Bloomberg.

Narratives

  • Left narrative, as provided by Korea Times. The Yoon admin. has been hostile towards unionists, despite an International Labor Organization (ILO) recommendation to protect the basic labor rights of truckers. Having been recognized as an advanced country in terms of labor issues just a few months ago, it’s a shame South Korea is now regressing. This could lead to further damage to the country’s standing.
  • Right narrative, as provided by JoongAng. People are fed up with the truckers' strike, which has caused significant disruptions and economic loss, so it shouldn't be a surprise Yoon's approval rating has improved. South Korean lawmakers should follow the example of their US counterparts by uniting against this strike to prevent more harm to an already fragile economy. It’s time for truckers to return to work.