South Korea orders striking steel, petchem truckers to return to work

SEOUL: South Korea ordered striking truckers in the steel and petrochemical industries to return to work on Thursday, widening a back-to-work order beyond the cement industry amid a prolonged nationwide truckers strike.

During opening remarks at a televised meeting of the country's cabinet, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo told the members to issue orders requiring the workers to resume their activities.

Last week, the government issued a "start work" order to force 2,500 striking drivers in the cement industry back on the road.

The second strike in less than six months over minimum wage protections has in its first 12 days delayed the delivery of goods worth 3.5 trillion won (US$2.66 billion), the government said earlier this week.

Petrochemical companies are considering cutting production as early as this coming weekend because of shortages of raw materials and space for unused inventory.

The "start work" order last month was the first time the government had forced striking workers back on the job. Failure to comply can lead to cancellation of licences, three years in jail or a fine of up to 30 million won (US$22,550). -- Reuters

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