AAFES drops striking Worldcup Arirang taxi company in South Korea
June 8, 2008
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials severed ties with Worldcup Arirang Tourism Co. last week, making a new taxi company’s arrival at U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan possible within one or two months.
Meanwhile, a new taxi company will begin operating within U.S. Army Garrison-Red Cloud, also known as Area I, on Tuesday.
AAFES ended its Yongsan contract with Worldcup on Wednesday, citing default, Shawn Dorcy, AAFES capital exchange general manager, said Friday.
To ease the crunch at Yongsan, secondary provider Yonhap Taxi, which was introduced at the garrison last July, will continue to operate 50 taxis, and AAFES officials will ask them to operate 50 more, Dorcy said.Worldcup drivers had been staging strikes and slowdowns against their company since April 18, demanding a $30 per month raise per driver. They held demonstrations outside Yongsan Garrison’s gates several times last week.
"They weren’t showing up to work after we gave them a reasonable amount of time to do so," Dorcy said. "We had been patient. It got to the point where we could not be patient any more."
The strike was the second since 2006, when the company’s nearly 300 drivers received a $100 bonus and $2 per month for each year of employment.
Dorcy said military command officials had given AAFES the go-ahead to solicit bids for a new primary taxi company before cutting Worldcup loose.
It will take a minimum of 30 days — but more likely at least 45 days — to select a new company and give the drivers licensing tests, Dorcy said.
Once that is complete, AAFES wants 200 taxis available from two companies for Yongsan-area customers.
Taxi rate structures will be similar to those found outside the base gates — though whether that means a 1,000 won (about $1) fee for on-call service, which is common in Seoul, is yet to be negotiated.
However, AAFES will avoid any situation where a single company’s drivers see themselves as invaluable, Dorcy said.
"We don’t want to be put in a position where only one [company] can do it. We’re looking to be close to what happens downtown every day," Dorcy said.
Camp Casey to see new taxi service by Tuesday
Camp Casey troops can expect to see a new on-base taxi company Tuesday, Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials said Friday.
Assuming drivers pass their tests, the Camp Casey enclave in Area I will receive 50 additional taxis running between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. daily, AAFES Area I general manager Ken Limtiaco said Friday.
Kumkang Taxi will charge 1,900 won (about $1.90) initial rates. All the other rates will match those found among non-base taxis, Limtiaco said.
Yonhap Taxi will continue running about 10 taxis, beginning at 11 a.m. daily.
Kumkang will not have a DSN number but can be reached by dispatch at (031)-865-0003. Its taxis will line up at the current taxi stands and won’t charge an additional on-call fee, Limtiaco said.
Camps Stanley and Red Cloud in Uijeongbu will continue to share 24 taxis run by Kwangsung Taxi.
Worldcup Arirang, which still occupies space at Camp Mobile, will be gone officially on June 15.
— By Erik Slavin