About 100 petrol stations across the country have run out of fuel as 25,000 motorists show up to pay.
A nationwide strike by South Korean truck drivers has shut down nearly 100 gas stations across the country, according to government data, with the country’s labor union announcing a strike in support of the drivers.
The strike by truck drivers regarding the reduction of minimum wages, which started on November 24, has been the subject of two talks between the union and the government, but so far nothing has been achieved.
With oil and supplies running low, the South Korean government has stepped up pressure to end the strike.
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Sunday ordered preparations to issue a return-to-work order for drivers in sectors such as oil refining and steel production, where economic damage is expected. Mr. Yoon last week requested this order, the first in the country’s history, for 2,500 truck drivers in the cement industry.
The Korea Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), which is the trade union for truck drivers, said the president’s order to “start work” is tantamount to martial law and said the government should negotiate.
The KCTU has said that it has organized a second drive to help people driving their cars.
By Monday afternoon, about 100 percent of the fuel was gone. About 60 percent of them were in Seoul and Gyeonggi province, the densely populated region near the capital, according to Korea National Oil Corp. data. This is based on the 21 barrels that the Ministry of Industry said ran out of oil on November 28.
Amid rising fuel prices, 25,000 truckers are asking the government to offer a lower payment system known as the “Safe Freight Rate”, which was temporarily introduced in 2020 for more than 400,000 truckers.
In their second strike in less than six months, truckers are fighting freezing temperatures and government talk of better paid “super workers”.
The Yoon government has maintained that it will not agree to the Union’s demands. The government has said it will extend the existing program for another three years.
The results of the strike are uncertain and depend on participation, said Han Sang-jin, KCTU spokesman.
Labor Minister Lee Jung-sik said on Monday that the strike would not benefit the people.
The strike has disrupted South Korea’s supply chain and cost more than 3.2 trillion won ($2.44bn) in shipping losses in the first 10 days, the industry ministry said on Sunday.
Damages are expected to increase in various industries, but traffic at the ports has risen slightly to 69 percent of its pre-fall rate since the return to work order was issued, according to the government.