(LEAD) Freight truckers go on strike to demand freight rate hikes

(ATTN: ADD presidential official’s comment to last paragraph)

SEOUL, June 06 (Yonhap) — Unionized freight truckers will begin a general strike as announced this week to demand freight rate hikes and other relief measures to deal with soaring fuel prices, their leaders said on Monday.

Most of the 25,000 members of Cargo Truckers Solidarity, an affiliate of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, and a large number of non-union truckers are expected to join the strike which is due to begin on Tuesday.

“As this is our right to survive, we cannot back down,” said a union official.

The truckers’ union last month threatened to call a general strike on June 7, protesting soaring diesel prices that threaten their right to survival. They demanded higher freight rates and other support measures.

The union also called for an extension of the safe trucking fare system designed to prevent unsafe driving and ensure minimum haul rates for truckers. The system, introduced for a three-year term in 2020, is due to end on December 31.

Police said they would deal harshly with any illegal acts during the strike, promising to arrest any union member who tried to disrupt the services of non-striking truckers.

On Monday, a presidential official said the government would try to resolve the situation smoothly, but added that any unlawful acts would be dealt with according to law and principle.

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