|The Korean Railway Workers' Union plans to go on a three-day preliminary strike, Friday. / Korea Times file|
By Kang Seung-woo
Unionized rail workers plan to hold a preliminary strike from Friday to Sunday, demanding an increase in the number of workers and better working conditions.
Given that the three-day walkout is expected to reduce the operation of passenger and cargo trains by up to 60 percent, there are growing concerns that it may cause public inconvenience for passengers and cargo transport.
According to the Korean Railway Workers' Union, Wednesday, the strike starts 9 a.m., Friday.
"The government and Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) agreed last year to increase the number of workers, particularly those in charge of safety-related work, as well as improve working conditions of subsidiaries and consolidate the KTX and SRT high-speed rail operations, but they are reneging on the agreement," the union said.
Korail operates the country's passenger and cargo trains and some subway lines in Seoul.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport estimates the operation rates for the KTX will be 72.4 percent, while those for Saemaeul and Mugunghwa passenger trains are forecast to remain at 60 percent. The operation rate for cargo trains will likely stay at 36.8 percent.
The ministry also plans to send substitute workers to keep the operation of KTX trains and some subway lines at usual levels, while providing alternative means of transport such as express and intercity buses.