South Korean bus drivers return to work after strike causes rush-hour chaos

Seoul Bus Labor Union agrees to 4.48 percent wage rise to return to work.

Commuters in Seoul were forced to make new arrangements after bus drivers went on strike [Anthony Wallace/ AFP]Published On 28 Mar 202428 Mar 2024

Thousands of bus drivers in South Korea’s capital of Seoul have returned to work hours after launching a strike that caused chaos for rush-hour commuters

The Seoul Bus Labor Union on Thursday agreed to a 4.48 percent wage rise plus 650,000 won ($480) in holiday bonuses, the Seoul city government said, nearly 12 hours after the industrial action disrupted almost all bus routes in the capital.

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The breakthrough cleared the way for the resumption of bus services ahead of the evening rush hour.

Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon had pleaded for a swift compromise between the two sides, saying residents’ livelihoods depended on the bus services.

Drivers began the strike, the first since 2012, at about 4am on Thursday after employers failed to agree to their demands for a 12.7 percent increase in hourly pay.

The Seoul city government extended the subway’s operating hours to 2am and put 480 non-union buses into service to help mitigate the disruption.

The strike left many bus stations around Seoul empty as commuters switched to the subway to get to work.

“I wasn’t aware of the bus strike because I don’t follow the news closely,” Cho Min-sang was quoted as telling the Yonhap News Agency.

“I was puzzled because there were no bus schedules on the bus station screens.”

South Korea is currently experiencing a doctors’ strike as thousands of trainee doctors protest against government plans to increase medical school admissions.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies