President Yoon Seok-yeol; Won Hee-ryong, Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Chung Jinsuk, Interim Chief, People Power Party


Over the last year, Korean truck drivers have been fighting to defend and strengthen their Safe Rates system, a system that improves road transport workers’ conditions, increases road safety, reduces accidents, and save lives by making companies at the top of road transport supply chains responsible for guaranteeing minimum standards and alleviating the economic pressures on drivers.

In June, the conservative Yoon Seok-yeol Government promised to make Safe Rates permanent and discuss expansion of coverage to more sectors. They have now broken that promise.

The Korean Government and the ruling People Power Party have broken their commitment and are heeding the demands of big business to gut or abolish Safe Rates.

This has forced the truck drivers and their union to take unlimited national strike action which will commence on November 24. Instead of sitting down with the union and listening to their demands, the government is promising strict retaliation.

Ahead of the strike, we want to send a message to the Korean Government that transport workers globally won’t stand idle while they threaten to remove a system that saves lives.

Stand in solidarity with Korean truck drivers and KPTU-TruckSol and sign your union onto the Open Letter to the Korea’s President, Transport Minister and People Power Party.

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To: President Yoon Seok-yeol; Won Hee-ryong, Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Chung Jinsuk, Interim Chief, People Power Party
From: [Your Name]

We are writing to call on you to uphold the promise your government made on 14 June 2022 by supporting legislation that would make Safe Rates permanent and expand coverage to more sectors.

The decision of your government to break its commitment has forced the hand of the truck drivers’ union – the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Division (KPTU-TruckSol) – and unlimited national strike action will commence on November 24 for the second time this year.

Regrettably, your government has failed to prevent a strike that will cause enormous short-term damage to the Korean economy, to critical national and global supply chains, and to Korea’s global reputation.

But the impact of failing to expand and make Safe Rates permanent in Korea is far greater.

Safe Rates systems set standards for safe and fair pay and working conditions through social dialogue and make large companies that contract for road transport services responsible for ensuring that these standards are met throughout their supply chains.

International research demonstrates that Safe Rates systems in Korea and elsewhere significantly increase road safety, reduce accidents, and save lives by alleviating the economic pressures on drivers that force them to engage in unsafe on-road practices.

More lives will be lost on Korean roads if your government does not remove the sunset clause in the Safe Rates legislation. And more drivers will be forced to continue working long hours, driving while fatigued and engaging in other dangerous on-road practices such as speeding and overloading if Safe Rates isn’t expanded and made permanent.

Countries around the world are looking at the Korean Safe Rates system as a model to follow. It is hard for us to understand why you would want to abolish a system that is setting a global standard, one which is recognised by the International Labour Organisation through its Guidelines on the Promotion of Decent Work and Road Safety in the Transport Sector.

In the wake of the tragic accident in Itaewon that resulted in the death of 156 people, and a seemingly endless series of industrial accidents, many of them as a result of budgetary and workforce cuts to rail and metro services – questions are being asked about your government’s commitment to protecting human life and public safety.

As unions that represent transport workers globally, we are shocked by reports that your administration and party intend to weaken the existing Safe Rates system so much that it will become unenforceable or simply allow it to expire at the end of this year. A system that saves lives.

We call on you to stop this blatant disregard for human life and uphold your promise and make Safe Rates permanent and universally applicable in the road transport sector.