Seoul Metro Workers to Strike Over Manpower Reduction Plan

SEOUL - Unionized workers of Seoul Metro, the operator of subway lines No. 1-8 in Seoul, are set to commence a two-day strike starting Thursday. The strike is a response to the company's plan to reduce its workforce significantly by 2026.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The labor union decided to take collective action following Seoul Metro's announcement of a workforce reduction plan, which aims to cut 2,212 employees, or 13.5 percent of its workforce, by 2026. This decision is part of an effort to address the company's chronic deficit and normalize management. The strike, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, is planned to minimize disruption during the morning rush hour and will continue until 6 p.m. Friday, as per labor union officials.

Negotiations between the labor and management of Seoul Metro, operated by the Seoul city government, occurred last minute on Wednesday but failed to bridge their differences. Talks about the downsizing plan have been ongoing since July.

According to a union official, while the management introduced some new proposals, they maintained their core plans regarding manpower reduction, outsourcing of safety-related jobs, and the employment of retirees. The labor union maintains that excessive downsizing could compromise safety, a claim that Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon has dismissed, asserting plans to enhance the company's efficiency through improved working patterns.

Despite the impending strike, subway operations are expected to maintain an average service rate of 65.7 percent for Lines 1 to 4 and 79.8 percent for Lines 5 to 8, under an existing labor-management agreement. To counter the strike's potential impact, the Seoul city government plans to implement an emergency transport scheme in coordination with local governments, police, bus companies, and other relevant organizations. The aim is to ensure full service during the morning rush hour, with an operation rate of 87 percent during the evening rush hour.

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