Rail­way union work­ers stage 72-hour strike

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Hyun-bin hyun­[email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

The rail work­ers’ union be­gan a 72-hour strike, Fri­day, af­ter talks with man­age­ment over a pay raise and bet­ter la­bor con­di­tions fell through ear­lier this year.

The 19,000-mem­ber Korean Rail­way Work­ers’ Union be­gan the strike at 9 a.m. and it will run through 9 a.m. Mon­day.

Ac­cord­ing to the Korea Rail­road Corp. (KORAIL) and the Min­istry of Land, In­fra­struc­ture and Trans­port, op­er­a­tion of pas­sen­ger and freight trains will likely be re­duced by 20 per­cent to 60 per­cent dur­ing the strike.

The op­er­a­tion rate for the in­ter­city sub­way will be 88.1 per­cent of nor­mal, while the op­er­a­tion rate for the high-speed KTX train will be re­duced to 72.4 per­cent. How­ever, SRT, the other bul­let train that links Suseo Sta­tion in south­ern Seoul to the south­east­ern port city of Bu­san and the south­west­ern port city of Mokpo, will op­er­ate nor­mally.

About 60 per­cent of Sae­maeul and Mu­gunghwa trains will also be op­er­at­ing.

The most heav­ily af­fected will be freight trains, of which only 36.8 per­cent will op­er­ate.

“We met with the union 16 times but could not come to a con­sen­sus and the union de­cided to strike. We sin­cerely apol­o­gize to the pub­lic for the in­con­ve­nience,” KORAIL Pres­i­dent Son Byung-seok, said at a press con­fer­ence at the KORAIL Seoul of­fice, Fri­day.

Amid grow­ing con­cern that the strike will cause pub­lic in­con­ve­nience, the gov­ern­ment said it would do its ut­most to min­i­mize the fall­out from the ser­vice dis­rup­tion.

KORAIL has mo­bi­lized ad­di­tional work­ers, in­clud­ing mil­i­tary per­son­nel and avail­able work­ers, while in­creas­ing train op­er­a­tions of in­ter­city sub­ways and KTX trains.

The rail­way union has been call­ing on the state-run rail ser­vices to nor­mal­ize al­lowances and raise pay by 4 per­cent. They also want an in­crease in the num­ber of new em­ploy­ees to shorten work­ing hours.

The union de­cided to strike in early Septem­ber af­ter 12 rounds of talks with man­age­ment, which be­gan in May, fell through.

The union has threat­ened to stage an­other strike in Novem­ber if its de­mands are not met.

Seoul Metro on strike

Also on Fri­day, union work­ers of Seoul Metro staged a work-torule protest, de­mand­ing bet­ter work­ing con­di­tions. The five-day work-to-rule will con­tinue un­til Tues­day.

The union has been call­ing on the com­pany, which runs sub­way lines 1 to 8, to in­crease the num­ber of main­te­nance work­ers and re­vise peak salary reg­u­la­tions for el­derly staff.

If its de­mands are not met, the union will stage a three-day strike from Oct. 16.

“The trains have been run­ning nor­mally dur­ing the work-to-rule sit­u­a­tion so far,” a Seoul Metro of­fi­cial said.

The union wants Seoul Metro to abol­ish the salary peak sys­tem, in­crease safety per­son­nel and im­ple­ment a four-team dou­ble-shift sys­tem to re­duce work­ing hours.

A three-day strike start­ing Oct. 16, would af­fect more than 7.2 mil­lion peo­ple who use the ser­vices daily.

Even dur­ing a strike, how­ever, the law re­quires the union to op­er­ate 100 per­cent of sched­uled train op­er­a­tions dur­ing morn­ing peak hours be­tween 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., 80 per­cent dur­ing even­ing peak hours from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and 60 per­cent dur­ing the re­main­ing hours, to pre­vent traf­fic may­hem.

On Thurs­day the Seoul Metro Line 9 union ended a four-day strike af­ter it came to an agree­ment with man­age­ment to raise wages, Thurs­day.

Since May, the union had held 15 meet­ings with man­age­ment about in­creas­ing the num­ber of work­ers, im­ple­ment­ing a step-based salary sys­tem and se­cur­ing more per­ma­nent job po­si­tions.


Mem­bers of the Korean Rail­way Work­ers’ Union hold a cer­e­mony to be­gin its three-day strike in front of the Min­istry of Econ­omy and Fi­nance in Se­jong, Fri­day. The union de­mands a four per­cent pay raise and bet­ter work con­di­tions. The walk­out is sched­uled to con­tinue un­til 9 a.m., Mon­day.

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