A truck-driver strike in South Korea stretched into a seventh day on Monday, forcing the country’s manufacturers to scale back production and slowing traffic at its ports.
The strike resulted in production and shipment disruptions for automobiles, steel and petrochemicals worth 1.6 trillion won, or about $1.25 billion, over the first six days, the country’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said on Monday.
The truckers’ strike is the latest headache for a global supply chain already reeling from Covid-19 lockdowns in China and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, especially because Korean companies are major suppliers for critical components and materials like semiconductors and steel.
Hyundai Motors said it had to cut production at one of its domestic plants because of the strike. Posco, South Korea’s biggest steel maker, said it had halted operations at some facilities because it had run out of space to store products. Hankook Tire said it had to cut daily shipments.
The Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Union has said that it had asked repeatedly for safer conditions and reasonable fares and that it had “no choice” but to strike when its demands were not met.
South Korea’s transport ministry, which is continuing to negotiate with the union, urged the truckers to return to work in a statement. The government said it would enact emergency measures including consigning 100 cargo trucks from the military and 21 vehicles from other local government agencies to carry goods into major ports.
On Sunday, the Korea Enterprises Federation released a statement with 30 other business industry groups, including semiconductor manufacturers and carmakers, demanding that the truckers call off the strike because it was “causing enormous damage to manufacturing and trade, the backbone of our economy.”