Thu, 07 Jul 2022

SEOUL, South Korea: South Korea's transport ministry and unionized truckers have reached a tentative agreement to end a nationwide strike that shut down much of the country.

The agreement ended an eight-day strike that crippled ports and industrial hubs, delaying cargo shipments for industries from autos to petrochemicals and spirits.

During the strike, South Korea's industries suffered more than $1.2 billion in lost output and unfilled deliveries, said the industry ministry.

Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong earlier warned that the country's government could force truckers to return to work or face jail.

A union official told reporters both parties reached an agreement to extend the minimum wage system for truckers and continue discussions on expanding a guarantee of minimum pay for carrying cargo.

In a statement, the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union said its members will immediately return to work.

The ministry said it will work with parliament on extending minimum pay guarantees and review expanding fuel subsidies and support "in order to ease truckers' difficulties from the recent rise in oil prices," the transport ministry said in a separate statement.

According to the industry ministry, the strike cost the South Korean auto industry some 5,400 vehicles in lost production, worth about $199 million.

Kang Myung-gil, a 50-year-old father of three who had joined the strike, despite not being part of the union, said, "It was the breaking point, but it turned out well. It is going to be a sweet sleep," as quoted by Reuters.

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