(4th LD) Truckers strike for 7th day, further disrupting production and shipping | Yonhap News Agency

(ATTENTION: UPDATES with details in paragraphs 1-7, 19-22; title and photos of CHANGES)

SEOUL, June 13 (Yonhap) — Thousands of South Korean truckers went on strike for a seventh day Monday with no end in sight, disrupting production and shipping in key manufacturing industries.

In the latest industrial shock from the truckers’ strike, POSCO, South Korea’s largest steelmaker, halted operations at some of its plants in the country on Monday due to a lack of space to store finished products.

POSCO said it “inevitably” suspended operation of all four of its wire rod plants and the No. 2 cold-rolled steel plant as of 7 a.m. Monday.

The company expects production losses of some 8,000 tonnes of wire rod and 4,500 tonnes of cold rolled steel per day if the suspension at the plants continues.

A prolonged stoppage could also result in a production halt at hot-rolled coil and steel plate plants in the coming days unless the stoppage is resolved, POSCO said.

The company raised concerns that there could be a suspension of the blast furnace at the main integrated steelworks in Pohang, 374 kilometers south of Seoul, in the worst case, it said.

Hyundai Steel Co., the country’s second-largest steelmaker, has also had difficulty shipping some of its finished products due to the strike.

The truckers’ strike is deepening logistical disruptions and delays across the country as negotiations with the government for a resolution have failed, officials said.

Freight Truck Solidarity members of 22,000, under the wing of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, have been on a general strike since June 7, demanding that the government extend a freight rate system that guarantees basic wages for truck drivers to cope with rising fuel prices. costs

The strike caused widespread disruption to the country’s logistics networks, with major sectors including auto, steel and cement experiencing production and export losses worth an estimated 1.6 trillion won (US$1,240). million) in the last seven days, according to the Ministry of Industry. .

As of Monday morning, some 6,600 members, or 30 percent, of the truck drivers’ union joined the strike across the country, the Transport Ministry said.

The union said that during its latest round of talks on Sunday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement pledging “active” efforts to help extend and improve the controversial freight rate system.

But the talks broke down just before the final agreement due to objections from the ruling People’s Power Party, the union said, vowing to continue the strike and “fight harder”.

The union is demanding an extension of the Safe Freight Rate System designed to prevent dangerous driving and guarantee minimum freight rates for truckers. The system, introduced for a three-year run in 2020, is scheduled to end on December 31.

The ministry said its dialogue with the union is on hold due to unspecified disagreements within the government over what was discussed between the ministry and the union.

The ministry said the union claims to have reached an agreement with the ministry, but it was a work-level discussion, not a final agreement.

“Our economy and industry in general are expected to suffer huge losses if logistics disruptions continue at a time when we are facing multiple challenges, such as disruptions to global supply chains and rising commodity prices,” he said. First Vice Minister of Industry Jang Young-jin appealing for an early resolution to end the strike.

The auto industry suffered 257.1 billion won worth of damage as the strike hampered the shipment of auto parts and caused production losses of about 5,400 vehicles, the Ministry of Industry said.

Hyundai Motor Co., the country’s biggest automaker, said the truckers’ strike is affecting vehicle production at its five plants in Ulsan, about 410 kilometers southeast of Seoul. At the five plants in Ulsan, Hyundai produces the Genesis GV80 SUV and the all-electric Hyundai IONIQ 5 model.

Steelmakers including POSCO have suffered losses of about 697.5 billion won so far.

Petrochemical and cement companies are having difficulty delivering finished products due to the strike.

The Korea Petrochemical Industry Association said some petrochemical companies are already suffering damage due to shipping disruptions and may have to suspend operations at their plants if the strike continues.

Most cement companies were forced to scale back the operation of their factories as their cement storage silos were almost full amid logistical disruptions, the ministry said, adding that further production losses are expected this week.

On Sunday, the number of shipping containers moving in and out of the Port of Busan, South Korea’s largest port, sank to about a quarter of the level seen a month earlier.

The corresponding figure at the Port of Incheon, another major port, also fell as much as 20 percent from the normal level.

The Korea International Trade Association said it has received 160 complaints from companies over logistics delays and production disruptions.

Among them, 105 cases related to problems in outgoing shipments and 25 to difficulties in obtaining raw materials. Fifteen companies said the truckers’ strike has led to the suspension of their plants.

Police said a total of 44 unionists were detained for business obstruction and other irregularities related to the strike during the week, and two of them have since been formally arrested.

“The police will severely deal with any illegal acts committed at the site, such as obstruction of official duties by public servants and threats to non-striking workers,” said Nam Koo-jun, head of investigation of the National Police Agency.


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