South Korean truckers blame semiconductor production and slow ports
June 13, 2022: -On Friday, South Korean truckers embarked on broader and more aggressive strike action, threatening to curtail deliveries of semiconductors and petrochemical products.
On its fourth day, the strike protesting increasing fuel costs halved production at Hyundai Motor’s massive factory complex on Thursday and has paused shipments for a few companies, which include steelmaking giant POSCO.
Container traffic at ports has slowed sharply. At Busan port, accountable for 80% of the container activity in the country, a government official said traffic was down to a third of normal levels on Friday.
At Incheon port, it has decreased to 20% of normal levels, while at the port for Ulsan, the industrial hub where the strike has taken place, container traffic has been wholly suspended since Tuesday.
The transport ministry said that some 7,500 members, or almost 35% of the Cargo Truckers Solidarity union, will be on strike on Friday. According to the government, 420,000 truck drivers belong to a union, about 6% of the country.
The union has argued that the numbers on strike are higher than government estimates and that many non-union truckers refuse to work.
South Korea is a significant supplier of semiconductors, smartphones, autos, batteries, and electronics goods. The recent industrial action further raises uncertainty over global supply chains disrupted by strict Covid restrictions on China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Faced with one of his first significant economic challenges, new President Yoon Suk-yeol has taken a neutral stance, which says the government should not be involved too much.
That has alarmed a few observers, who say Yoon’s remarks could hinder the ability of the government to come up with a solution.
On Friday, the union said a meeting with the government concluded without an agreement, and they would now meet on Saturday.
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