TWU statement on south Korean government’s plans to issue return-to-work orders against striking truck drivers

Transport Workers' Union

The TWU is calling on the Korean government to stop plans to issue ‘return-to-work’ orders and immediately negotiate with TruckSol to make Safe Rates permanent and expand coverage to more sectors.

The Transport Union Workers’ of Australia represents transport workers across Australia. We are affiliated with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the global union federation that represents the voice of 20 million workers from 150 countries at the International Labour Organisation and in other international bodies.

Unions globally have already called on the Korean government to uphold its commitment to Korean workers and the Korean public by supporting legislation that would make Safe Rates permanent and expand coverage to more sectors, via an open letter to President Yoon Seok-yeol, Minister of MoLIT and Interim Chief of People Power Party on 22 November.

However, far from fulfilling their promise, the Korean government and People Power Party have responded by labelling the strike an illegal action even before it started and are now threatening striking drivers with executive orders to return to work. Violation of return-to-work orders to carry with them penalties of up to 3 years in prison or fines up to KRW 30 million.

The Korean government’s actions are in clear violation of ILO Convention No. 87, which states that all workers, without distinction, including self-employed workers have the right to establish and join organisations of their own choosing, and permits the right to strike as one of the essential means through which workers and their organisations may promote and defend their economic and social interests.

Transport workers in Australia have been fighting with our Korean brother and sisters for years to win and strengthen Safe Rates system in our two countries. We are outraged by the Korean government’s repression of KPTU-TruckSol’s legitimate strike action. We once again call on the Korean government to stop plans to issue ‘return-to-work’ orders, comply with international labour standards, and uphold its promise to KPTU-TruckSol and the Korean public to make Safe Rates permanent and expand coverage to more sectors.

Safe Rates Save Lives. Australian transport workers fully support KPTU-TruckSol’s strike and will continue to stand in solidarity with Korean truck drivers until their demands are met.

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