Truckers strike heavily affecting construction sites across Korea

Posted on : 2022-11-28 16:20 KST Modified on : 2022-11-28 16:20 KST
The strike for a minimum pay system has sent shipments of concrete and cement plunging
Ready-mix concrete trucks sit at a ready-mix plant in Seoul on Nov. 7, the fourth day of a general strike by unionized truckers in Korea. (Yonhap)
Ready-mix concrete trucks sit at a ready-mix plant in Seoul on Nov. 7, the fourth day of a general strike by unionized truckers in Korea. (Yonhap)

As workers affiliated with Korea’s Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Division (TruckSol) entered their fourth day of a general strike, the repercussions of the work stoppage grew clearer. Construction sites have been most impacted by the strike as disruptions in cement shipments have sent the supply of concrete plunging. The latest developments have raised the alarm about a nearing shutdown of sites where frame construction is underway.

According to data from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT), container shipments from 12 ports nationwide (from 5 pm Saturday to 10 am Sunday) were at 6,208 TEU, a mere 17% of usual shipments (36,824 TEU). 1 TEU is the equivalent of one 20-foot container.

However, the storage yard occupancy rate (the ratio of containers stored to the storage capacity of each port) was at 62.6%, only slightly lower than normal (64.5%).

As most car carriers at Hyundai Motor’s Ulsan production plant have stopped operating, the plant has had to revert to moving cargo by road — that is, transporting vehicles for sale by driving them.

Also, since 70%-80% of the truckers for the four major oil refiners (SK, GS, S-Oil, Hyundai Oilbank) are unionized, there is concern that there will be disruptions to the supply of gasoline and diesel at gas stations if the strike goes on for much longer.

MOLIT stated, “As the general strike continues into day four, there are reports of damage at construction sites, and we expect similar reports from other industries [such as steel] as early as this week.”

The strike is heavily impacting the cement and ready-mix concrete industry and construction sites.

According to the Korea Cement Association, 103,000 tons of cement were scheduled to be shipped on Saturday, but the actual shipment only amounted to 9,000 tons, which comes to 9% of the anticipated volume. Shipments have been suspended at major shipping bases in the Seoul metropolitan area.

The ready-mix concrete industry predicts that there will be nationwide production halts starting Tuesday due to the cement transportation disruptions.

Ready-mix concrete, which is delivered in pourable form, usually has a loading capacity of around two days for the final consumer, so this means that construction sites will come to a halt.

Seoul’s largest reconstruction site, the Dunchon Jugong apartment complex (120,000 households) in the city’s Gangdong District, has been at a virtual standstill since Friday due to the drop in shipments of ready-mix concrete. Framing construction for raising the floor heights of buildings has been suspended, essentially shutting down the site as a whole.

By Choi Jong-hoon, staff reporter

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