S. Korean bus drivers set for nationwide strike

22 ноября 2012, 09:59
Photo courtesy of hungeree.com
Photo courtesy of hungeree.com
Millions of South Koreans face commuter chaos Thursday with bus drivers set to launch a national strike to protest against a bill recognising taxis as public transport, AFP reports.

Some 80,000 bus drivers across the country will launch the action from midnight Wednesday, a bus union spokesman told AFP.

The strike call was confirmed after a parliamentary committee approved the proposed bill, bringing it a step closer to becoming legislation.

The union argues that the bill -- which will give taxi drivers new tax benefits and allow them to drive in bus-only lanes -- will eventually reduce state support for buses and disrupt their operations.

"The budget for public transport is limited, meaning the new bill may eventually force us to raise bus fares, not to mention the increased risk of car accidents in bus-only lanes," the spokesman said.

"We won't be able to drive buses as scheduled if reckless taxi drivers keep cutting in on our lanes," he added.

The threatened strike would take 45,000 buses off the roads, affecting millions of commuters and overloading already packed subway systems in major cities.

City buses carry an average of 15 million passengers each day. The transport ministry said it would expand subway operations and offer free shuttle services on Thursday.

The government also asked state agencies and schools to delay office hours and classes by an hour Thursday morning to help ease traffic chaos, Yonhap news agency said, citing a Seoul official.

The bus union said the proposed bill was a populist measure aimed at winning the votes of South Korea's nearly 300,000 registered taxi drivers ahead of the December presidential election.

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