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KHMU Newsletter<6> South Korea appears to have greatly slowed the new cases of COVID-19. Warm-hearted solidarity will bring victory to us.

by KANG,YeonBae posted Mar 21, 2020 Replies 0
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KHMU Newsletter No. 6 Released on March 21, 2020


South Korea appears to have greatly slowed the new cases of COVID-19. Warm-hearted solidarity will bring victory to us. 


As of March 21, the total number of confirmed patients reached 8,799, which is up by 147 cases from the previous day. On the same day, 102 deaths and 379 releases from hospitals were reported.


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President Na soon ja


More releases have been reported than were first identified on March 13 after the new corona virus occurred on January 20

Although the number of newly confirmed cases per day dropped to around 80~150, showing a sign of hope, local infection counts and a chain of transmission still goes on. Hence, it is too early to feel relieved.

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Meeting with branch leaders


The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (KHMU) has mobilized all resources to respond to COVID-19. The KHMU President Na Soon-ja has been convening daily meetings on how to improve the situation, checking the reports from local and regional branches of the industry-level healthcare workers’ union. Around 20 including steering committee members and heads of capital area branches participate in the discussions.


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Meeting with branch leaders

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Meeting with branch leaders


All decisions and commitments made at the day-to-day meetings are posted on <the COVID-19 Situation Room Note> and shared on the Internet with every branch.  In addition, the KHMU announces daily statements that reflect lively voices from the field, urging the government to take more effective and proactive measures. For example, we at the Union reported masks and protective gears were short in hospitals and demanded the Ministry of Health and Welfare to take actions to solve the issue.

 

Plus, our demands include the government’s support for the private hospitals so that more hospitals, not just public hospitals, are ready to accommodate patients.

On the occasion of the General Election scheduled in April, we urge each political party to propose public health-related pledges; for instance, ▲ to establish state-run national infection specialized hospital  ▲ to establish more public hospitals and make private hospitals public ▲ to increase a staffing level for the public healthcare system and found national public medical schools.

 

The KHMU President Na has visited hospitals in Daegu and nationwide. On 13th, she, together with the President of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) had a meeting with the Minister of Labor to deliver demands from the union members, while their request for a meeting with the Minister of Health and Welfare is pending at the moment.

 

The KHMU also hung a banner around hospitals to send messages of cheers and encouragement to patients, people, union members and other health and medical workers who are fighting against COVID-19 at the very forefront. Besides, the Union has been conducting a SNS campaign to gather and deliver cheering messages to healthcare workers.

Full-time union officers at each branch are also busy dealing with COVID-19. They requested an emergent safety session to discuss with hospital officers how to respond. In addition, those union activists have been giving assistance at screening centers. The Union has pointed it out that indirectly hired workers such as those working for cleaning and maintaining facilities should be adequately trained and also protected with appropriate measures.

The Union has also insisted that ‘paid care leave’ should be freely exercised and pregnant workers should be treated with adequate measures. At the same time, it has urged the government and the national assembly to actively provide financial support to medical institutions and for medical staff.

 

Union members voluntarily serve in COVID-19 hotspots.

 

Meanwhile, as confirmed cases have been soaring in the Daegu-Gyungbuk region, more medical personnel have been desperately needed. Around 100 union members mostly from public medical facilities have been dispatched to the areas in need.

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The National Medical Center’s union branch members(Nurses)


It is noteworthy that 24 nurses and one physician at the National Medical Center based in Seoul voluntarily applied for a duty in Daegu with the largest number of confirmed cases. 

The National Medical Center, a representative public medical facility in Korea, has been preparing for possibly increasing number of confirmed patients in Seoul by making more beds available for those infected. Fortunately, Seoul has yet to see as many patients as worried, hence, there’s room to send their medical staff to other regions.

With this, the Union decided to send union members to Daegu and the dispatched health workers will take care of patients in ER in rotation at university hospitals in the most largely affected city.

 

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President Na soon ja


“We would deeply appreciate those highly experienced medical staff of the National Medical Center for making such a decision to come down to Daegu,” said Na Soon-ja, the KHMU President, at the sendoff party before the medical emergency support team headed to Daegu.

The National Medical Center’s union branch head Ahn Su-gyung said, “We couldn’t turn away from the struggling situations faced by medical personnel in Daegu. I was so touched when our nurse union members willingly decided to come down to there with me.”

 

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The National Medical Center’s union branch head Ahn Su-gyung

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The National Medical Center’s management also joined forces in the union members’ endeavor by promising that they would give such all-out support as transportation provision, safety assurance and paid dispatch.

 

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“Beside patients, beside Korean people, beside persons are healthcare workers struggling to tackle the novel coronavirus at the very forefront”

Let’s come over this challenging time all together beyond fear and hatred, and exclusion and discrimination.

Your cheers and supporting messages for health workers will be greatly appreciated

 

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Your every single sweat is so much valued. You, healthcare workers fighting against COVID-19 with all effort!

Let’s come over this challenging time all together beyond fear and hatred, and exclusion and discrimination.

Your cheers and supporting messages for health workers will be greatly appreciated.

 

 

 KCTU Main Demands (overview)

 

  • Change in direction of government’s response, focus on securing funding and executing relief

  • Focus on support for most vulnerable workers

  • Increase funding for direct support

  • Provision of cash support in the form of ‘urgent disaster basic livelihood support’

 

  • Support for vulnerable workers as part of containment effort

  • Immediate provision of masks to patient care workers in hospitals and care facilities, subcontracted workers

  • Provision of mask and hand sanitiser to dependent self-employed service, delivery and mobility workers

  • Increase oversight of lead companies prevention measures covering subcontracted, agency and daily workers

  • Protective measures for migrant workers and homecare workers

 

  • Improve oversight of workplace containment and prevention measures

  • Oversight to prevent forced use of individual vacation time in the case of workplace closer or quarantine

  • Provide for paid care leave and extend excluded categories, including those on civil servant and teachers’ pension plan

  • Increase oversight to ensure labour-management consultation and OSH committees consult on response measures

 

  • Urgent measures to minimise harm to workers

  • Provide workplace closure allowances for education support workers, daily construction workers, dependent self-employed workers

  • Support to maintain employment at workplaces with 4 or less employees

  • Oversight of and sanctions for employers forcing workers to take unpaid leave or give up pay

  • Staffing and safety support measures for civil servants, public institution and healthcare workers facing overwork

  • Prevention of misuse of exemptions on worktime limitations (52 hour week)

 

  • Strengthen response system for infectious diseases and public healthcare

  • Measures to confront mask shortage and ensure supply to healthcare facilities and blood banks

  • Increase efforts to secure hospital beds to treat COVID-19 patients

  • Support for hospital losses and staff increases

  • Establishment of national and regional public hospitals specialising in infectious diseases

  • Increase public healthcare facilities and professional workforce

  • Transfer from facility-centred to community-centred approach to mental health

 

  • Legislation for Fundamental Change: ‘5 Covid-19 Labour Acts’

  • Enact law guaranteeing paid infectious disease leave and care leave

  • Expand the application of unemployment insurance law

  • Enact law on ‘urgent disasters basic livelihood support’ for vulnerable groups

  • Revise the Trade Union and Labour Relations Adjustment Act (Article 2) to guarantee freedom of association rights of dependent self-employed workers

  • Amend the Labour Standards Act to apply to workplaces with 4 employees or less

 

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Korean Health & Medical Workers' Union

Address KHMU Bldg, 10 Beodeunaru-ro 16-gil, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, 07230 Korea

Tel +82 2 2677 4889

Fax +82 2 2677 1769

E-mail khmuinfo@gmail.com