Seoul orders striking truckers to return to work on the 15th day of strikes

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo. – -/YNA/dpa

South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck Soo said Thursday that the government has ordered striking petrochemical and steel industry truckers to return to work as they mark 15 days of strikes amid growing supply chain disruptions.

Han justified the government’s decision on the grounds that this «prolonged and unjustifiable» strike is «seriously» damaging South Korea’s industry and economy. In this sense, he warned that the strikes will affect shipments of key exports, such as the automotive and naval sectors.

This is the second demand by the South Korean government to the striking truckers to return to work, after the cement industry truckers were called in last week.

«The government’s position is firm. The government will not engage in lawlessness or hold them accountable,» Han stressed Thursday at a press conference, reports Yonhap news agency.

Since November 24, thousands of truckers have been on strike to demand better working conditions and wages.

Under South Korean law, failure to comply with the government’s order to return to work can carry penalties of up to three years in prison and fines of up to 30 million won (21,500 euros). Until last week, South Korea had had no recourse to this law since it was passed in 2004.