Moves comes after President Yoon Suk-yeol chaired the cabinet meeting to discuss the invocation of strict strike laws.

South Korea’s government has taken the unprecedented step of introducing tough strike laws to end a six-day strike by truck drivers it says is hurting the economy.

President Yoon Suk-yeol chaired a cabinet meeting earlier on Tuesday to discuss issuing a work order after the government failed to reach an agreement with unions in discussions on Monday. The decision is the first time a South Korean government has issued an order to reinstate striking transportation workers.

Non-compliance can lead to penalties such as license revocation and three years in prison, or a fine of up to 30 million won ($22,550).

Transport Minister Won Hee-ryong said earlier that if approved, the order would be implemented without delay.

The strike — the second in less than six months by truck drivers demanding a minimum wage — disrupts industrial activity at a time when Asia’s fourth-largest economy expects growth to slow from 2.1 percent next year to 1.7 percent.

Before the government’s announcement, strike organizer Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union (CTSU) called the order to start work “undemocratic and anti-constitutional”, evidence of the government’s reluctance to engage in dialogue.

“The CTSU will not succumb to this government action,” the union said in a statement late Monday.

The union plans to hold 16 rallies nationwide on Tuesday, it added.

The government is unwilling to extend a minimum wage system beyond another three years, while the union says it should be permanent and broader.



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