South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol instructed officials on Sunday to prepare an executive order for striking truckers in the fuel and steel industries to return to work amid logistics disruptions caused by the collective action.
He told officials to “prepare to immediately issue an administrative order for industries, such as oil and steel, that are feared to incur additional damage” as he presided over a meeting of relevant cabinet Ministers on the topic of the ongoing strike.
The move came five days after Yoon invoked a back-to-work order for cement truck drivers. He did not provide a specific time frame for a second executive order, Yonhap news agency reported.
The strike entered its 11th day on Sunday. Truckers have demanded the government permanently guarantee minimum wage. The strike has caused major disruptions of shipments of cement and steel supplies and began to take a toll on the oil refinery sector.
The President also asked the relevant Ministers to take all necessary administrative measures for stern actions against what he called a “serious threat to the rule of law,” saying the striking truckers hold the economy hostage for their own interest.
The government had delivered the back-to-work notification to 33 operators and 791 individual truckers in the cement industry as of Saturday morning. Of them, 29 operators and 175 drivers have resumed work or plan to do so in the near future, it added.
Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho vowed to take legal measures to strictly punish truckers who take part in the illegal group action and refuse to come back to work.
“We will form a response team with the police and provincial governments to crack down on any illegal conduct and take strict administrative measures against those who do not comply with the executive order,” Choo said after the meeting.
The government said shipments from major ports and cement production sites have been recovering since an executive return-to-work order on striking cement truckers was issued last week.
Container shipments from 12 major ports around the country from 5 p.m. Saturday to 10 a.m. Sunday recovered to 12,782 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), marking 33 per cent of the normal level. The figures more than doubled from 6,208 TEU tallied a week ago.
At the Busan port, the country’s biggest maritime gateway, the daily container shipment level rose to 42 per cent of the average as of Sunday morning.
The oil refinery sector, however, is suffering increasing supply disruptions due to the protracted strike by cargo truckers.
Some 74 gas stations across the country had run out of fuel as of 2 p.m. Sunday, with more gas stations set to suffer fuel shortages, according to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
A total of 781,000 tons of oil shipments, worth more than 1 trillion won ($768 million), have been put on hold for the past 10 days, added the Trade Ministry.