Railway workers threaten general strike next week

The Korean Railway Workers' Union (KRWU) said Thursday it will stage a general strike next week to demand an expansion of KTX high-speed train services to include a lucrative station in southern Seoul.

The strike will be carried out from 9 a.m. on Sept. 14 to 9 a.m. on Sept. 18, the union said in a news conference.

The collective action is intended to pressure the transport ministry to come to the dialogue table on allowing KTX trains, run by the Korea Railroad Corp., to access Suseo Station, the starting station of another high-speed train service called Super Rapid Train (SRT), it said.

KTX and SRT, run by SR Corp., start at Seoul Station and Suseo Station, respectively, and use different routes to Pyeongtaek, 60 kilometers south of the capital, on the way to the southern cities of Busan and Mokpo.

The KRWU said its members have been staging a work-to-rule protest since Aug. 24 over the issue but the transport ministry has refused to its proposal for dialogue.

The union said an integration of KTX and SRT services will help with seat shortages and fare costs, raising suspicion that their separate operations, as well as the ministry's apparent preferential treatment of SR Corp. may be a step toward the privatization of railways.

The strike, if implemented as planned, will be the first walkout by railway workers in almost four years since the last one in November 2019.

Source: Yonhap News Agency