Rail Strike Takes Toll

The railway workers' strike entered its 15th day on Monday, taking a heavy toll on crucial services around the country. Operator KORAIL plans to reduce train operations even further due to concerns of fatigue among staff handling extended shifts to cover for their striking colleagues.

The railway operation rate stood at 83.1 percent on weekdays since the strike began but had plummeted to 76.1 percent as of Monday. The rate for KTX bullet trains fell from 88 percent to 73 percent on Monday.

The strike has knock-on effects for other industries given bottle-necks in the transport of cement and other materials. Freight train operations dropped from 39.4 percent to 30.1 percent Monday.

If the strike continues, operations will slow even further starting Dec. 30. In the worst-case scenario, almost all freight trains could be grounded after Jan. 6.

Meanwhile, around 4,000 riot police on Sunday failed in an attempt to storm the headquarters of the militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions in downtown Seoul and arrest rail union officials.

This is the first time since the KCTU was established in 1995 that police raided headquarters. The KCTU has vowed to protest against the raid with a general strike on Dec. 28.

englishnews@chosun.com / Dec. 23, 2013 13:45 KST