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South Korean truckers end week-long strike


South Korean truck drivers protest outside a container port in Incheon, near Seoul

South Korean truck drivers will return to work Wednesday after reaching an agreement with Seoul to end an eight-day protest over wages and fuel costs that had snarled global supply chains.

The truckers’ industrial action had disrupted production and shipments for the crucial steel, petrochemical and automobile sectors, in an early test for new President Yoon Suk-yeol who has vowed to deal with labour disputes “strictly”.

The ministry said is “relieved” that the union decided to end their strike, adding “we are very sorry for causing concern for the people due to discruptions in logistics and production”.

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The Safe Trucking Freight Rates System was due to expire later this year but the two sides reportedly agreed to keep it in place.

“All we are asking for is to remove the uncertainty in our lives,” union member Cho Jeong-jae told AFP Tuesday at a protest in Incheon, a city bordering Seoul.

Cho said the rising cost of fuel had not been reflected in the fees businesses pay to transport their goods.

The strike in Asia’s fourth-largest economy was the latest blow to international supply chains that are already strained by Covid-19 lockdowns in China, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The country’s trade ministry said Tuesday that the action had resulted in losses for businesses of about 1.6 trillion won ($1.2 billion).

On the campaign trail, President Yoon — a political novice — had vowed to be strict on labour disputes and indicated he was more pro-business on issues such as minimum working hours.

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