South Korean ports strained as trucker strike rolls on

SOUTH Korea’s busiest port is feeling the strain as a national truckers strike moves into its second week. Local reports have indicated that container yards at Busan North Port are more than 85% full compared to a more usual 72% of capacity.

The smaller ports of Gamman and Shingamman were effectively closed to marine cargoes Monday as the two facilities exceeded official 100% capacity. Port authorities told local news outlets that if the strike continued beyond Wednesday the ports will stop functioning altogether.

At the heart of the dispute is a complex logistics and transportation system that sees cargo consigned over three to four stages of the trucking operation: trucking companies pay a 10% commission at each stage leaving them with just 60% to 70% of the transportation fee.

The new government under beleaguered president Lee Myung-Bak has pledged to introduce new laws to improve the country’s logistics systems.

The heat is on both for the legal reform and an end to the current strike as the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions has threatened to call an all out strike if members vote for it today.