Troubled South Korean president faces more strikes
(Reuters) - South Korean car, construction and other unionized workers threaten to halt work this week in anger at the policies of the president, on top of a truckers' strike that has slowed transport in the export-dependent country.
Lee Myung-bak, who stormed to a landslide victory in a December presidential election, has seen his support plummet due to an unpopular deal to open the local market wider to U.S. beef imports and opposition to his calls for privatizing state firms.
The militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) is set to announce results of a strike vote on Monday. Its more than half a million members include metal workers for the country's leading car maker Hyundai Motor.
"Once we get members' approval, we'll outline details on the timing and the scale of actions," said a KCTU official. The umbrella group that also represents construction and health care workers is angered at Lee's privatization and pension plans.
Hyundai Motor Co said on Sunday the transport of finished cars was half of normal levels due to the truckers' strike that started last week and has slowed cargo moving in and out of ports.
The Korea International Trade Association said in a statement major ports and inland terminals saw cargo transport fell to 24 percent of normal levels due to the strike and $1.13 billion worth of exports and imports was affected as of Friday.
South Korea's biggest port of Busan could grind to a virtual halt in days, Yonhap news agency reported.
Unionized truckers represent only a small portion of drivers in the country but play a key role in moving goods in and out of ports. About 14,000 walked off the job last Friday after talks on higher pay and demands for cheaper diesel broke down.