SEOUL, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's transport ministry on Tuesday issued its first-ever return-to-work order to truckers who have been on a strike demanding reasonable freight rates.
Around 2,500 truckers in the cement industry will be subject to the order. It is the first time that such order has been invoked since relevant law was enacted in 2004.
Anyone defying the order can be punished with up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 30 million won (about 22,600 U.S. dollars).
Thousands of truckers went on strike Thursday, demanding the government extend the temporary rule guaranteeing minimum freight rates that are set to expire at the end of this year.
The truck drivers claimed that without the minimum freight rates, they will be forced into speeding, overwork and overloading to earn their livings amid the surging fuel costs.
For the government's part, the order was issued as the strike slashed the country's cement supply by more than 90 percent and caused disruptions at construction sites.
The government and the striking truckers held negotiations Monday but failed to narrow differences.