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Protect Korean Truck Drivers’ Rights and Public Safety: Make Safe Rates Universal and Permanent!

05 Dec 2022

Truck drivers in South Korea and around the world face difficult and dangerous conditions. At the bottom of multi-level subcontracting chains and facing extreme economic pressures, they are often forced to drive long hours while fatigued, speed, overload and engage in other unsafe driving practices in order to make ends meet. We know that truck drivers need fair rates of pay and decent conditions in order to be able to drive safely. Safe rates saves lives.

In South Korea the Safe Rates system, in force since 2018, is helping to change this situation. The system guarantees minimum rates of pay and working conditions for owner-operator truck drivers and makes the companies at the top of supply chains responsible for ensuring these standards are respected.

This has improved the lives of truck drivers and their families and made road safer for everyone, by ensuring that truck drivers can cover their costs and drive safely.

But Korean truck drivers are now in a desperate fight to save their Safe Rates system.

A ‘sunset clause’ in the legislation means that the Safe Rates system will disappear at the end of the year if new legislation is not passed. In addition, currently the system only applies to 6.5% of truck drivers.

Safe Rates must be expanded to cover all Korean road transport workers to truly make the road transport industry safe and sustainable.

ITF affiliate, the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union Cargo Truckers’ Solidarity Division (KPTU-TruckSol) won an agreement from the government to continue the system after an eight-day strike. But now the government is backtracking on its promises.

The Safe Rates legislation is currently being debated in the Committee on the Stabilisation of the Public Economy in the Korean National Assembly. Right now it’s critical that we call on the Chair of the Committee, National Assembly Member Yoo Sungkyull, the governing People Power Party, and administrator for the committee, National Assembly Member Kim Jungjae, to stop blocking and attempting to weaken the legislation, and instead commit to making Safe Rates a permanent universal system.