South Korea’s government will meet a striking truckers’ union for the first talks of a five-day nationwide walkout, as supply chain glitches worsen and concrete runs out at building sites.
The government, which estimates daily losses at about 300 billion won ($224m) as supplies of cement and fuel for filling stations run short, raised its warning of cargo transport disruption to the highest level.
But the union held out little prospect of a breakthrough in the second major strike within less than six months, as thousands of truckers demand better pay and working conditions.
“The transport ministry’s position is already set, and there is no room for negotiations, so this meeting is not a negotiation … the content is a demand for an unconditional return to work,” said the union.
The strike is disrupting industrial activity at a time when Asia’s fourth-largest economy, which is dependent on exports, faces lower-than-expected growth next year, with the central bank having downgraded its 2023 forecast to 1.7 percent from 2.1 percent.
“We need to establish a rule of law between labour and management,” President Yoon Suk-yeol Yoon said on Monday, according to the presidential office.