More than 160,000 taxis across the country will halt operations Wednesday and launch a sit-in protest in Seoul in the afternoon to urge lawmakers to re-approve the pending taxi bill, taxi operators said Tuesday.
The four major labor unions for taxi operators said about 160,000 out of 250,000 taxis will suspend services for 24 hours starting at 5 a.m. Wednesday to participate in a massive protest in Yeouido, the Seoul district where the National Assembly is located. The Assembly is currently holding a temporary session until March 5 for legislative proceedings.
To minimize citizens’ inconvenience, the government said, it would extend subway and bus operating hours by up to two hours in Seoul and its surrounding areas.
It also vowed to take stern measures, including suspension of state-funded fuel subsidies or the revocation of licenses, against any illegal protests.
The decision to strike came a few weeks after President Lee Myung-bak vetoed a parliament-approved bill on the taxi business, saying it would give unfair subsidies to the industry.
The controversial bill redefined taxis as public transport eligible for various state subsidies. The parliament passed bill on Jan. 1 with a majority number of lawmakers both from the ruling and the opposition parties endorsing it.
The government has criticized the taxi bill, saying it would cost more than 1 trillion won a year, undermining necessary state budget needed for welfare plans.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org