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SEOUL — Worldcup Arirang Tourism Co. has until Monday to respond to a warning letter from the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and explain how it will resolve the lack of taxi service in Area I and Area II, according to an AAFES spokesman.

The letter, dated July 18, tells Arirang that the strike by taxi drivers that began more than a week ago is an unauthorized interruption of service.

If that interruption continues, AAFES may take action, including “determining employees ‘unacceptable,’ revocation of ‘drivers passes,’ and additional contractual action that may be deemed necessary to resume services immediately,” the letter states.

By Friday, AAFES still had heard no response from Arirang, according to Air Force Master Sgt. Donovan Potter, a spokesman for the exchange service. “The company has until Monday morning” to respond, he said.

AAFES contracts with Arirang to provide on-base taxi service to U.S. Forces Korea personnel in Area I and Area II. Most of Arirang’s 270 taxi cab drivers began striking on July 14 and 15.

The drivers are asking for a $105 monthly raise; most drivers make between $1,259 and $1,363 a month, not including tips.

The company and drivers so far have held one negotiation session, but it ended after five hours with no progress, both sides have said.

When reached by Stars and Stripes on Friday afternoon, Arirang manager Kim Hong-yeon hung up his cell phone without answering any questions. A call to Arirang president Ahn Jong-tae was not returned Friday afternoon.

Union president Shim Woo-chang said Friday afternoon no future negotiations were scheduled. The union has held protests in Dongducheon and Seoul since the strike began and another was scheduled for Saturday afternoon outside Yongsan Garrison, Shim said.

Limited taxi-cab service began Thursday on Yongsan Garrison and in Uijeongbu. In Seoul, 18 Arirang drivers returned to work. In Area I, military officials struck a deal with Gwang Seung Transportation Co. to take USFK personnel from the Uijeongbu area onto other bases in Area I and as far as the gates of Yongsan Garrison.

Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this story.


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