As much as I enjoyed the taxi-free roads in Busan and disagree that fuel should be cheaper, gas importers are full of fumes.
Over 200,000 cab drivers congregated as part of a nationwide strike by the main taxi unions, who are seeking cuts in the cost of liquefied petroleum gas used by most cabs and a rise in the flagfall fare of 2,400 won ($2.08), which has remained unchanged since 2009.
Drivers say they use around 30-40% of their earnings to pay for LPG, which has soared over 50% in price since 2009, according to gas information website Petronet.
Ulsan Dongwon Taxi Union Chairman Im Won-taek said it’s hard for drivers to earn 1.3 million won per month ($1,128) even after 13 to 15 hours of work every day.
The ministry said it has asked gas importers and the Korea LPG Association to cooperate with gas price stabilization. The industry body says that international pricing makes that difficult but it would do its best to find ways to stabilize prices.
Only the international market is a sizeable reason for pump prices, but not the only piece of the puzzle. Refining costs, distribution and marketing, and taxes also matter. This isn’t so much a market problem as a turf battle between the government, consumers, every industry player in the fuel chain, and taxi drivers over who profits the most and who pays the most. It also highligts how politically weak unions are.
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