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Gyeonggi Province bus union headed for strike

Sept. 21, 2022 - 14:55 By Lee Jung-Youn
Union members vote to decide whether to go on strike, in Osan, Gyeonggi Province, Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The bus drivers' union in Gyeonggi Province, under the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, appears set for a general strike later this month, with an overwhelming majority of members supporting the plan.

The union on Tuesday voted on the plan to strike on Sept. 30 with 97.3 percent of approval rate.

According to the union, 14,485 members participated in the vote, and 14,091 of them voted for the general strike. The province's bus drivers' union counts 15,234 members across 47 companies.

On Sept. 13, the union had held a negotiations meeting with bus operators on both private and semi-public routes, but failed to meet consensus before proceeding with the vote.

With the union members having approved the strike, a general strike will begin on Sept. 30 if the two rounds of negotiations scheduled before that date fail. The union and management representatives are set to meet Friday and again Sept. 29. The strike will involve more than 16,600 buses, accountings for 92 percent of all route buses in Gyeonggi Province.

The union calls for resolutions for excessively long driving schedules and low wages, demanding a two-shift system and a raise to match the wages of bus drivers in Seoul.

Bus operators are appealing that financial difficulties due to the recent rise in raw materials such as oil price are making it difficult to accept workers’ demands. The companies claim that support from Gyeonggi Province is necessary to meet the demands.

The union also opposed the partial implementation of the city bus semi-public management system recently announced by the province and urged Gov. Kim Dong-yeon to implement the full expansion of the semi-public system, which was his original pledge.