UIWANG, South Korea – Inside five white tents outside the Uiwang container depot near Seoul, about 200 striking truckers huddle around gas heaters, trying to fight the bitter cold and the government narrative that they are well paid “labor aristocracy.”
They are all too aware of the impact their strike has had on South Koreans at a time of record inflation. But these drivers, and tens of thousands of others striking across the country, say their calls for stronger minimum pay protections are all that stand between them and poverty.
“We are not the enemy. We are loyal to our country, because we are contributing to exports,” said Kim Young-chan, a 63-year-old container truck driver transporting exports such as home appliances and cosmetics between Uiwang and Busan port. “Our money is stretched to eat and live for a month. Labor aristocracy? That is nonsense.”
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