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Delivery workers vote to strike over ‘gapjil’ from apartment residents

Unionized delivery workers chant slogans during a press conference Friday held to announce that the union has voted to launch a strike over an ongoing conflict with an apartment complex and its residents over a ban on ground-floor parking. (Yonhap)
Unionized delivery workers chant slogans during a press conference Friday held to announce that the union has voted to launch a strike over an ongoing conflict with an apartment complex and its residents over a ban on ground-floor parking. (Yonhap)
Unionized parcel delivery workers in South Korea have voted to launch a strike later this month as they ask logistics firms to step in and resolve an ongoing conflict with an apartment complex and its residents over a ban on ground-floor parking.

The delivery workers’ union under the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions said Friday that 77 percent of 6,000 workers voted to approve the walkout. The strike will consist of some 2,000 workers from the union, details of which will be announced later from the union leader.

The union had announced in a statement earlier that the walkout will start May 11 unless logistics firms step in before then to resolve the “gapjil” issue from an apartment complex in Gangdong-gu, eastern Seoul, and its residents that has lasted for more than a month now.

Gapjil refers to bullying and sometimes violence by a powerful person or entity against someone in a weaker position. The word derives from a contract term to describe a leading party in a deal.

Since April 1, the apartment complex of 5,000 households and the delivery workers have been wrestling over a decision from the complex’s resident representatives to ban parcel delivery trucks from driving on ground-floor roads within the complex’s area.

The ban called on the workers to park their trucks at the complex entrance or in the underground parking lot, requiring workers to use handcarts when making door-to-door delivery services.

Delivery workers strongly opposed the move, saying the vast majority of delivery trucks used in Korea would not fit in the underground parking lots, designed with a 2.3-meter height limit.

The workers would have to spend money out of their own pockets to fit the limit, as they are under special temporary contracts with logistics firms, and not employed as full-time workers.

The conflict remains unsolved, and delivery workers have been piling up parcels by the entrance to the apartment complex. Residents have had to physically come to the entrance to pick up their deliveries every day.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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