The Korean Postal Workers’ Union has decided to scrap its plans for an all-out strike initially scheduled to take place this week, narrowly avoiding what would have been the country’s worst-ever delay in postal services, the union said Monday.
“It was a difficult decision, but the government said it will make improvements (to prevent) deaths due to excessive workloads. We have also agreed to accept the government’s settlement out of concern that the public would be affected by a strike,” said union leader Lee Dong-ho during a press conference held in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.
“We had announced an all-out strike because of the frequent deaths (of postal delivery workers) caused by overwork. Though the result is not 100 percent what we demanded, we will return to service,” Lee added.
A postal delivery worker pulls up to the Gwanghwamun Post Office. (Yonhap)
The union held extensive discussions with the Ministry of Science and ICT over the weekend and drafted a settlement under which the ministry pledged to hire 900 people, including 750 postal delivery workers; implement a five-day workweek system next year, starting with the farming and fishing communities; and use the profit brought in by the Korea Post Bank to enhance the postal business.
Conflicts between the union and the government have intensified in the wake of the continued deaths of postal delivery workers, including nine so far this year. The union attributes their deaths to overwork and harsh working conditions.
Late last month the union voted to strike, sparking concerns over what would have been the first strike in the history of the country’s postal service since its establishment in 1958.
By Kim Bo-gyung (firstname.lastname@example.org