ANKARA (AA) – Thousands of truck drivers and union workers in South Korea have refused to obey government orders to end the ongoing strike and return to work, local media said on Tuesday.
Drivers and construction workers held protest rallies across the country and rejected the government's move to bring them back to work through a return-to-work order, according to Yonhap News Agency.
Thousands of drivers and members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) held protests at 15 locations nationwide to support the 13th day of a general strike, demanding the extension of a freight rate system that guaranteed basic wages.
Last week, the South Korean government ordered the drivers to return to work after the strike disrupted supply chains across the country.
Under local law, the government can invoke a work initiation order if logistics companies or workers cause significant disruptions to cargo delivery by refusing to work without justification, the media outlet stated.
In case of a refusal of a government order, violators face up to three years in prison or a fine of 30 million won (approximately $22,500).
"We will fight the government's oppressive response to the strike with even stronger solidarity and continue to fight on sternly," KCTU chief Yang Kyung-soo was quoted as saying by the news agency.
President Yoon Suk-yeol also ordered the authorities to come up with measures to minimize damage caused by the ongoing strike.
"Yoon gave the instruction after he was briefed about the current situation of the strike at a meeting with senior aides earlier in the day," Kim Eun-hye, senior presidential secretary for press affairs, said.
In June, truck drivers went on strike in response to rising fuel prices, demanding that the government intervene.
The strike, which lasted about a week, disrupted cargo transportation and resulted in financial losses. The strike also impacted domestic production, causing $1.2 billion in damage, while this time so far has caused $2.69 billion in damages to different sectors, according to media reports.
Truck drivers called off their strike after reaching an agreement with the South Korean Ministry of Transport.
* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid