Seoul bus drivers are on strike over refusal to accept wage hike demand

Seoul bus drivers are on strike over refusal to accept wage hike demand


Talks broke down after the union stuck with its all for 12.7pc hike in hourly wages

  • First full scale strike by the city's bus drivers in 12 years, the last one lasted for around 20 minutes
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SEOUL (Reuters) – Bus drivers in the South Korean capital of Seoul went on strike on Thursday after last ditch efforts at negotiating a wage hike broke down, snarling the commute for the city of more than nine million people and another million from the outskirts.

With disruptions expected during rush hours, the Seoul Metropolitan Government said the subway will run for extended hours with additional trains put into service.

The city's 25 districts will also provide 480 shuttle buses to carry commuters to subway stations.

The full scale strike by the city's bus drivers is the first in 12 years. Their last strike lasted for around 20 minutes.

The negotiations between the Seoul Bus Labour Union, which represents drivers serving 97 per cent of bus operations, and their employers failed after the union demand for a 12.7pc hike in hourly wages was dismissed as "excessive," Yonhap reported.

Commuters in Seoul were left bewildered on Thursday morning, with some not being aware of the strike after the talks broke down before dawn, the Yonhap news agency reported.

"We'll make an all-out effort to smoothly reach an agreement between the union and the management soon," Yoon Jong-jang, a head of the Transportation Planning Bureau at the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said in a statement.

Buses in Seoul are operated on a quasi-public system in which private companies manage the buses while it's heavily subsidised and regulated by Seoul's city government to ensure accessibility of services.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon pleaded for a swift compromise. "City buses are the legs of the citizens; their livelihood and daily lives literally depend on them," he said.

South Korea also has an ongoing doctors' strike as thousands of trainee doctors have walked off their jobs in protest against the government's plan to increase medical school admissions.

Critics have said the authorities should prioritise improving the working conditions of trainee doctors while the government says the plan is vital to remedy a shortage of doctors in one of the world's fastest-ageing societies.