The worst strike situation has been avoided as the labor and management of the Seoul Metro, which operates the Seoul subway, reached an interim agreement in the last negotiation just before the strike.



The union announced the news of the conclusion of the main negotiations on the collective bargaining agreement yesterday (13th) around 11:40 pm.



After 8 hours and 30 minutes of negotiating at around 3 pm yesterday, we reached an agreement with difficulty and ended the marathon negotiations.



However, there is a possibility that the conflict over restructuring may arise again, given that it is still a tentative agreement and that a breakthrough has not yet been made to overcome the worst financial crisis in history.



According to the union of the Seoul Transportation Corporation, in the final negotiations, the labor and management agreed to "to prevent forced restructuring due to the financial crisis, and to form a labor-management joint council to carry out management normalization measures to strengthen safety and improve financial conditions."



Regarding restructuring, which is a key issue, the management seems to have taken a step back.



A union official said, "The agreement was reached with the addition of the text 'to ensure that there is no forced restructuring' in the agreement with the management."



"As both labor and management agree that it is essential to preserve the cost of public service expenses in order to solve the financial crisis, we will continue to overcome the crisis together based on exemplary labor-management relations of mutual concessions and cooperation," the official said.



Negotiations were interrupted, discussed by the working group, and resumed twice.It is reported that the Justice Party lawmakers Shim Sang-jung and Lee Eun-ju played no small role in the last-minute agreement being reached.



Just before the last-minute negotiations resume, the two lawmakers visited the representatives of labor and management to explain the discussion related to the preservation of the free transportation and state funds being promoted by the National Assembly, asking both sides to take a forward-looking attitude, the union said.



Accordingly, it is interpreted that the management postponed the restructuring plan while deciding to actively propose to the government the issue of preserving public service (free transportation), a major factor in the financial difficulties of the corporation.



In fact, during the negotiations, there was no progress until the second suspension, but eventually the situation changed to visits by the two lawmakers, and a final agreement was reached.



As labor and management succeeded in reaching an agreement, the subway strike, which was scheduled to begin in the morning of today (14th), was temporarily withdrawn.



However, structural problems have not been resolved promptly, leaving a determinant of conflict.



The main background of this labor-management conflict was the construction deficit, which exceeded KRW 1 trillion last year, and the cost of providing public services such as free transportation, which is a major part of the deficit.



For the past five years, KDHC has suffered an average annual loss of KRW 336.8 billion due to free rides.



As the deficit grew, the government demanded management rationalization from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the corporation.



The strike clock stopped as the management took a position that it would not carry out 'forced restructuring', but there are concerns that a strike card may come out again if there is no breakthrough such as government support to overcome the financial crisis.



Representatives Sang-Jeong Shim and Eun-Joo Lee announced that they would take the lead in discussing the National Assembly, but it will take a considerable amount of time for the government subsidy to be actually implemented due to the budget deliberations related to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance and legislative issues that serve as the basis for preserving state funds.



However, in a situation where free transportation losses continue to occur, the number of beneficiaries is increasing due to the aging population, and as the COVID-19 situation has not improved, it is difficult to see a clear improvement in the company's profitability.



An official from the construction company said, "If the fundamental problems such as overcoming the financial difficulties are not resolved, the strike will only be postponed." "It is a situation that can become a problem again at any time, so it is urgent to discuss with the National Assembly and social consensus on the cost of free transportation." said.

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