Truck drivers for South Korean beer and liquor firm HiteJinro and its wholly-owned subsidiary Suyang Logistics proceed to protest towards situations and unfair dismissals, months after the battle started. The continued demonstrations are a results of administration’s refusal to satisfy employees’ calls for and the betrayals of the unions, which have been in search of to subordinate the battle to South Korea’s foremost opposition Democratic Occasion of Korea (DP).
Presently, 132 drivers from the corporate are demanding that they be reinstated to their positions after being fired in June. Their dismissals adopted protests after which strikes towards HiteJinro that started in March when the drivers, formally employed at Suyang Logistics, joined Cargo Truckers Solidarity (CTS) within the hope of bettering working situations on the firm. CTS is a department of the Korean Public Service and Transport Staff’ Union, which is affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Commerce Unions (KCTU).
The drivers are demanding a rise in delivery charges of a minimum of 30 p.c to satisfy the rising prices of products. In July, shopper costs rose to six.3 p.c, the best in virtually 24 years. On the identical time, delivery expenses have been stagnant since 2008. Staff reportedly make as little as 700,000 received ($US506) to at least one million received ($US722) a month when all of their bills are subtracted.
The HiteJinro drivers are additionally not lined below the Protected Trucking Freight Charges System, which ensures a minimal freight fare to make sure that drivers usually are not compelled to drive dangerously to make ends meet. This method, which is already inadequate for drivers’ wants, solely covers delivery containers and cement.
As well as, the drivers are demanding the withdrawal of HiteJinro’s claims for damages towards a few of the union members ensuing from the strikes and protests, in addition to an software for a courtroom injunction towards the employees’ protest websites exterior firm crops in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, and Hongcheon, Gangwon Province. The corporate is demanding as a lot as 2.8 billion received in damages ensuing from the protests.
CTS and the KCTU are utilizing these protests in an try to persuade employees that their struggles may be fought by way of the pro-capitalist Democrats and the varied civic and spiritual organizations that orbit the DP. In actuality, the Democrats and their allies just like the fake-left Justice Occasion share the identical anti-working-class agenda because the right-wing administration of President Yoon Suk-yeol and the ruling Individuals Energy Occasion.
On September 5, the KCTU helped stage a press convention with the Korea Institute of Labor Security and Well being and Attorneys for a Democratic Society. These organizations, linked to the Democrats, spoke in entrance of HiteJinro headquarters in Seoul with a view to posture as defenders of the drivers and supply political cowl for the KCTU and its ongoing strikes to dam them from reaching out to different sections of the working class.
On August 25, union bureaucrats from CTS, together with its chief Lee Bong-ju, additionally met with six DP politicians exterior the HiteJinro places of work to assist bolster the Democrats’ phony and long-discredited picture as a pal of the working class. In actuality, the union desires the Democrats to assist shut down this battle and impose a sellout association in favor of the corporate.
The KCTU additionally favorably cited the Justice Occasion in an August 26 article on its information platform, Nodonggwa Segye (Labor and the World), with the celebration stating HiteJinro’s actions have been “unfair and unlawful labor oppression that nullifies the appropriate to strike assured by the structure and even ignores the [International Labor Organization] conventions.” In different phrases, in accordance with the Justice Occasion and the KCTU, if solely the corporate would observe the legislation, employees wouldn’t have battle with their employers.
The drivers’ protests, which initially started in March, developed into partial strikes in Might after which a full strike on June 2 at Icheon and Cheongju. The picket strains prolonged to the corporate’s plant at Hongcheon on August 2. HiteJinro refuses to satisfy any of the drivers’ calls for, declaring that they need to negotiate with Suyang Logistics, regardless of the latter being a wholly-owned subsidiary.
An official from HiteJinro instructed the media earlier this month, “The union has not give you any new proposals, however solely reject the proposals from Suyang Logistics. There appears to be no will to barter.” Nevertheless, the union has already ended a sit-in protest at HiteJinro’s headquarters in an try to carry the corporate to the bargaining desk.
On the identical time, the corporate has been utilizing strikebreakers, supported by police, from its company places of work to drive supply vehicles. The KCTU and CTS, nevertheless, have tacitly accepted the corporate’s strikebreaking operations by refusing to arrange bigger strikes of different drivers, or from amongst its broader membership, which the KCTU claims exceeds 1.1 million. At the same time as different unions go on strike or threaten to walkout, the KCTU consciously retains these struggles remoted from each other.
Moreover, in June, CTS truck drivers all through the nation launched a week-long strike towards related situations. This strike started to influence main firms like metal producer POSCO and Hyundai Motors, at which level CTS promptly shut down the commercial motion with not one of the calls for met. The HiteJinro drivers’ combat continued, nevertheless, lower off from different employees even inside their very own union.
That is the modus operandi of the KCTU and its associates. Whereas posturing as “militant” defenders of employees the union manoeuvres behind the scenes to succeed in an settlement that it enforces on its members. On the identical time, strikes are restricted as a lot as doable with a view to shield South Korean firms and the revenue system. When strikes do escape, like the present one involving the freight drivers, they’re remoted from different sections of the working class.
With the intention to take ahead their battle, protesting drivers at HiteJinro should break with the KCTU and all capitalist events and organizations by way of the institution of impartial rank-and-file committees.
These committees should attain out to all sections of the working class in South Korea and internationally, all of which face the identical exploitative situations, with a view to increase their battle. The intention have to be to develop an impartial motion of the working class towards the capitalist system itself.