why are south korea rail workers holding 1st strike in 4 years
South Korea’s railway workers started a four-day strike on 14 September, demanding improved working conditions and an increase in salaries.
The strike, the first since November 2019, started on Thursday at 9:00 am with a participation of 13,000 unionized rail workers. The workers’ first strike in four years can affect passenger and cargo train operations.
The railway strike will end on September 18. Unionized railway workers can extend the strike if their demands aren’t met.
Korean Railway Workers’ Union demands
The Korean Railway Workers’ Union, also known as Cheoldonojo, has called on the railway authorities to increase wages of the railway workers and improve their working conditions. The Korean Railway Workers’ Union demands also include an expansion of the KTX bullet train services, which has the capability to connect various Korean cities within a few hours.
The Workers’ Union called on the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport of South Korea to allow the KTX bullet train services to access Suseo Station in Gangnam District, the third largest district in Seoul. They said that the move would ease seat shortages and decrease fare prices. The Union also demanded 12-hour shifts by four teams of the railway workers.
Stop privatization of rail transport
The Workers’ Union also protested privatization of rail transport in South Korea. The Union accused the government of SR Corporation, also known as Supreme Railways, a South Korean rail operator, of seeking privatization of railroads.
The rail workers warned the government not to privatize the Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL), the national rail system of South Korea.
Why are South Korea rail workers holding their 1st strike in 4 years?
The South Korea rail workers started their first strike in four years after the failed negotiations between the workers’ union, the South Korean transport ministry and Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL).
The South Korea rail workers have been demanding a good salary for months. They have repeatedly called on the authorities to fulfill their demands.
The South Korean transport ministry and Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) have been criticizing the workers’ demands.
Han Moon Hee, the new President and Chief Executive Officer of the Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL), called the workers’ strike “illegitimate” and urged the railway workers to resume their work.
The Minister of Employment and Labor of South Korea, Lee Jung-Sik, also called on the workers’ union to stop their four day strike. He said that the strike can negatively impact the public’s daily lives.
In June, the South Korean rail workers held a partial strike to protest privatization of rail transport. Around 4,000 union members joined the partial strike, disrupting services.