KHMU Info No. 12(December 27, 2018)
Around 1,400 Union Members Go on a Strike at Gachon University Gil Hospital
Gachon University Gil Hospital branch of the KHMU (The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union, President Na Sun-ja) began to go on a strike on December 19, 2018 with the demand for improved wage and working conditions. At the moment, nine days after the strike started, around 1,000 union members protest at the lobbies on the first and second floors of the hospital’s main building. This collective protest at Gachon Gil Hospital is the first ever strike in 60 years of its history.
As the core requests, they demand the hospital management to staff to an adequate level, to improve the personnel policy and the current wage system.
The union branch was founded on July 20 and in 5 months, 1,500 workers joined the union. The labor and the management went through 18 sessions of collective bargaining from last August up to now and have yet to reach an agreement due to the position gaps in core issues that cannot be easily narrowed even after they extended the negotiation period.
The Gil Hospital union has emphasized that the quality of medical services can only be improved when the management raises wage, hire additional employees, including nursing staff in particular, establish a policy improvement committee for a better and democratic workplace culture, and transform the atypical and contract working positions to full-time, permanent positions.
The union applied for dispute mediation to the Incheon Labor Committee on 3 and from 10 to 12th, it had run the poll to find out how many would approve industrial actions. Exactly 1,195 out of the total 1,383 union members voted and 97%, which is 1,159 supported that they would take industrial actions. Around 800 union members attended the mediation application report session, which took place on December 5.
In its statement released on 20, the KHMU noted, “The Gil Hospital has grown to a higher tier polyclinic with 1,400 beds for the last six decades, but behind the growth lie dedications and devotions of the residents in Incheon and its employees, which seem to be forgotten now. The founder Lee Gil-yeo should come out to the negotiation table as soon as possible to address the current issues that led to strike.”
To follow the decision made by the Inchon Labor Committee, the union members still work on their duties that are necessary for intensive care units and emergency rooms even during the strike. They also run a stand-by team for emergency services. As of December 22, the utilization rate of wards remains only at 23%.
Union members have continued the strike in rotation even on weekends and holidays at the hospital lobby.
On December 26, in front of the Incheon City Hall, together with local civic groups, they held a press conference to urge the hospital to address the pending labor issues as early as possible so that they can go back to work from strike. They also marched through the street.
Gil Hospital started its service as an obstetrics and gynecology specialized clinic on 1958 and has been growing very rapidly to a large –scale hospital with 1,400 beds as of 2018. Indeed, the hospital has its own yellow union that was founded in 1989. Against this union, in 1999, some workers tried to set up a new democratic union but the attempt was tackled by the management and failed.