[Newsmaker] Seoul subway workers to go on strike Wednesday

By Choi Ji-won
  • Published : Oct 14, 2019 - 16:02
  • Updated : Oct 14, 2019 - 17:50

The labor union of Seoul Metro, which operates eight subway lines, announced a three-day walkout starting Wednesday if their demands are not met by the government.

The union urged the Seoul Metro, Ministry of Interior and Safety and Seoul Metropolitan Government to meet the demands regarding enhancement of working conditions during a press briefing on Monday.

Unionized workers of Seoul Metro hold press briefing in front of Seoul Central Government Complex on Monday. (Choi Ji-won/ The Korea Herald)

“Seoul Metro has the highest rate of industrial accidents among all public corporations, and this results from the insensitivity to safety due to persisting shortage of the workforce,” said an official of the public transport unions -- to which the Seoul Metro’s union is affiliated.

“The insecurity of the railway workers is directly linked to public safety, and we will stage an even fiercer fight if the government agencies do not engage in proper negotiations,” the official warned.

The union’s demands include reinforcement of workers, abolition of the wage-peak system -- which involves a gradual reduction in salary for senior employees -- and the formal implementation of the four-group two-shift system currently being test-operated.

According to the union, almost 100 subway stations in Seoul are being managed by two or less workers, and sometimes employees are forced to work on their days off due to staff shortage.

The Seoul Metro operates Subway Line No. 1-8 with around 7.2 million daily commuters.

The union estimates that Subway Line No. 1-4 will run at 66 percent capacity, and Subway Line No. 5-8 will operate at 78 percent capacity during the strike. Details of the strike will be confirmed following the results of negotiations with the corporation until Tuesday, a union official said.

Meanwhile, a separate strike by the Korea Railway Workers’ Union against the state-owned train operator Korail ended 9 a.m. Monday. The 72-hour walkout was reported to have affected the operations of subways and trains in the capital area. Korail operates Subway Lines No. 1, 3 and 4 with the Seoul Metro.

Railway services in Seoul have been disrupted since last week as four railway unions announced separate strikes that will take place in October and November.

By Choi Ji-won (