Railway union workers stage 72-hour strike
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.