The union and the transport ministry reached a tentative agreement late Tuesday night, putting an end to a statewide strike that halted ports and industrial centers.
Tuesday night, the transport ministry and the truckers' union reached an agreement to extend the truckers' minimum freight rates and to continue discussing increasing a minimum pay guarantee for transporting goods to include other products.
The ministry will also evaluate extending fuel subsidies. The eight-day strike delayed cargo shipments ranging from automobiles to cement and alcohol, costing South Korea more than $1.2 billion in missed production and unfulfilled deliveries.
"As a result, the strike has been halted until our demands are passed in parliament," said Park Jung-hoon, an official of the union's Busan chapter, referring to the steps the transport ministry must take to meet the agreement.
The strike was an early test of President Yoon Suk-new yeol's administration and significantly disrupted global supply lines already hampered by China's COVID-19 restrictions and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
All of the port of Busan's unionized truckers plan to return to work after two or three days of rest. "In the event that some shippers attempt retaliation, we will respond strongly," Park said.
Woo Sang-ho, the interim leader of the opposition liberal Democratic Party, which has a majority in parliament, applauded the deal, but stated that the issue of ensuring freight rates required legislation and asked for "fundamental adjustment" to solve truckers' conditions.
Wednesday's joint statement with the union and a Democratic Party committee stated that the ruling party must not remain a mediator, but rather advocate actively the minimum freight rate system because it is directly related to people's safety.
Kim Jae-gwang, a union official, expressed bewilderment about whether the government and Yoon's governing conservatives agreed to make the minimum wage system a permanent feature or simply extend a temporary measure for another specified period.
The Korea International Trade Association, a business lobbying group, stated that the minimum freight rate system ignores market functions, decreases productivity, and impairs international competitiveness by "putting a one-sided cost on the shipper."
However, investors responded favorably, with shares of Hyundai Motor increasing by up to 4 percent and shares of Hanil Cement increasing by up to 7 percent.
Production at Hyundai Motor's Ulsan plant has resumed, and the company says it would do its best to minimize customer irritation as a result of the disruption.