Worries about S Korean economy grow amid truckers' strike

Seoul: South Korea's prime minister warned Tuesday that the disruption of cargo transport could cause irrecoverable damages on the country's economy, as a nationwide truckers' strike entered its eighth day.

About 6,840 truckers were rallying Monday at 14 sites across South Korea, continuing to trigger a delay in the shipment and delivery of key items like steels, cement, petrochemicals and tires, the Transport Ministry said in a statement.

The statement said some steel and cement-related factories halted their operations. It accused some striking truckers of obstructing cargo transports at some major southeastern ports.

During a Cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, South Korea's No. 2 official, said the illicit activities by the striking truckers will never receive public support, according to Cho Yong-man, the No. 2 vice culture minister who serves as a government spokesperson.

Cho cited Han as saying that the disruption of cargo transport could pose a big irrecoverable blow to South Korea's economy, which already faces other difficulties.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a statement Monday that the first six days of the strike caused an estimated 1.6 trillion won ( 1.2 billion) in damages.

Truckers are on a strike, calling for an extension of temporary measures guaranteeing minimum wages amid soaring fuel prices. They met government officials several times but each meeting ended without any breakthrough. In a statement Monday, the Cargo Truckers Solidarity issued said the Transport Ministry lacked the resolve and capacity to narrow differences over the

truckers' demand.

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