News & Statements

KPTU Welcomes the Establishment of Safe Rates


KPTU Welcomes the Establishment of Safe Rates
Safety for the public! Rights for transport workers!
Yesterday (12 December 2019), the Korean Road Safety Freight Rates Committee (hereafter, "Safe Rates Committee") passed safe rates for road freight transport workers (truck drivers). This decision, which was taken over one month past the legal deadline of 31 October, came at the end of long and arduous negotiations. As a result, drivers of specialized vehicles carrying export-import containers and bulk cement will receive legally guaranteed rates beginning on 1 January 2020. The Safe Rates system, effectively a 'minimum wage system for the road freight market', will finally come to fruition South Korea.

The Safe Rates system was legally established last March through revision of the Trucking Transport Business Act with the goal of protecting road safety by guaranteeing a decent living for truck drivers. In passing this law, the Korean government and National Assembly recognised that the outsourcing of danger and rates pushed down to the floor force truck drivers to overload, speed and drive excessively long hours and at night, and that this situation threatens the safety not only of truck drivers but of all road users. Now, finally, the actual monetary amounts of rates going into effect next year have been established. This is a historic victory for Korean truck drivers and for KPTU-TruckSol, which has been fighting for the last 18 years to defend the rights of all truck drivers and served public interest by turning this struggle into a fight to protect road safety.

The effort to defend public safety by requiring clients and transport companies to take responsibility for fair rates is already a global trend. In October of this year a tripartite ILO Experts Committee passed "Guidelines to Promote Decent Work and Road Safety in the Transport Sector". These guidelines call for sustainable payments to specially-employed truck drivers covering driving and all non-driving work time, for governments to establish mechanisms to encourage such payments, and for monitoring and enforcement of client and transport company (supply chain) compliance. Discussions are also going on at the ILO on a convention on decent work in global supply chains. Safe Rates and other similar systems are now implemented or under discussion in several countries including Australia, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands.

Even as we celebrate the historic introduction of the Safe Rates system was also begin a new fight.

First, the safe rates, which were set with great difficulty, must be effectively implemented and firmly established throughout the road freight industry. In the lead up to the rates decision some transport company and client representatives refused to participate in Committee meetings, demonstrating their continued intention of making the system fail. KPTU will work in unity with TruckSol and all truck drivers to resist any attempt to destablise the Safe Rates system and support bargaining and struggle where necessary to ensure that safe rates set a floor, not a cap.

Secondly, Safe Rates must apply to all vehicle and freight types. In the process of legislating Safe Rates last year, interference by transport industry interests and conservative politicians led to a severe reduction in the vehicle and freight types to which rates apply and the period of operation of the system. However, it is illogical to think that raising rates in a few sectors for a few years will be enough to achieve the system's stated goals. The law and regulatory framework applying to the transport industry must be dramatically improved in order to ensure that Safe Rates apply to all truck drivers with no time limit, and that all clients and transport companies take joint responsibility to stop the outsourcing of danger.

Finally, Safe Rates must apply to the entire road transport industry. Quick delivery scooter drivers drive on average 3000 km a month in order to make only KRW 2 million (EUR 1,500). As a result of increased platform work, countless individuals are becoming short-term delivery workers forced into a race of death for meager piece rates.

This problem is not confined to freight or parcel transport. Taxi drivers illegal forced to pay lump sums from their earnings to their employers and bus drivers suffering from excessively long hours have become time bombs on wheels, forced into reckless and fatigued driving. Improving these workers' conditions is an urgent task that can no longer be put off. In this regard, we welcome the call of food delivery riders for 'Safe Delivery Fees' and will continue to struggle to extend the Safe Rates victory in trucking to the entire road transport industry.

Safety for the public! Rights for transport workers!
Korean Public Service and Transport Workers Union