KHMU Newsletter No. 9 Released on May 28, 2020
Final Decision Made on the Demands at the Central Industry-level Negotiation and Direction for Future Activities (May 19, 2020)
The First time -ever Virtual Congress
The Central Negotiation Meeting Start on May 27: Special Negotiation on COVID-19 Agenda
The Korean Health and Medical Workers Union (KHMU, President Na Soon-ja) plans to proceed with “Special Negotiation on COVID-19” to surmount the virus crisis and protect safety and life of people and health workers.
The decision above was made at the KHMU virtual temporary congress which began at 2:20 pm on May 19. The union leadership made a proposal on the video screen and congress members discussed the agenda in the chat room.
The KHMU leadership proposed top three activities to break through the COVID-19 crisis: ▲ to make effort to overcome COVID-19 and to reform health and medical system (with institutional reform and activities for anti-medical privatization and stronger public nature of medical services) ▲ to secure employment and a decent level of wage, to stop the retrogressive revision of the Labor Law and reform the labor system ▲ to bring about the grand social reform and realize social solidarity to combat economic crisis and social disasters.
The KHMU also decided to negotiate and carry out social dialogue with concerned government agencies both at the national and local level. As the first step, the central negotiation will begin on May 27th and continue every Wednesday.
President Na said in the opening remarks, “The KHMU has written a proud history of struggles against medical privatization and for free medical services as well as stronger public nature of public services. We need to turn this COVID-19 crisis into a chance to innovate Korea’s health and medical system in all directions, to establish a rigorous quarantine and clinical system against infectious diseases, to strengthen public medical services and to secure a more sufficient level of health workers. To this end, we will commit to strenuous fight and negotiations with the government to enhance the rights to health.” In addition, she strongly criticized, “Going through this COVID-19 crisis, we have become keenly aware of the need for sufficient manpower and public health services. Nonetheless, the government has still been pushing ahead with remote medical service systems and use of personal data by private companies, which have been requested by conglomerates.” She also emphasized, “We can never let medical services be privatized. With COVID-19 outbreak, let’s prove that has shown the need of sufficient health workers and stronger public medical services.”
The KHMU has also finalized the request proposal on industry-level wage, which is 5.6% increase in the total wage compared to 2019. At the same time, the proposal includes the request to link the wage increase to a sufficient level of manpower, regularization of irregular working positions, more decent jobs, revival of local economy and assistance to vulnerable group of people, in order to compensate health workers’ intensive labor, especially their work responding to COVID-19 and the medical crisis
A common request that will be proposed by each branch on site was also finalized. The request is categorized into five: 1. Protection of labor rights 2. Safe workplace 3. A sufficient level of workforces, 4. Better working conditions and standardization 5. COVID-19 Social Solidarity Fund and social solidarity activities.
The on-site requests are detailed as follows: no lay-off in relation to COVID-19, regularization of irregular working positions, infection prevention, paid leaves that cannot be avoided in relation to their work responding to COVID-19, removal of infection blind spot within hospitals, provision of psychological counselling and treatment to relieve those suffering from prolonged COVID-19 situations, securing more medical staff, including nurses dedicated to infectious diseases, solving PA issues, compensation for the holidays of public organizations, extension of parenthood leave to three years, assignment of honorary industry supervisors and honorary labor equality supervisors nominated by the labor union, social solidarity fund jointly created by labor and management, assistance to socially marginalized people, etc.
On May 14, the KHMU sent out the official request for central negotiation to hospital employers. After the first central industry-level negotiation on May 27th, the meetingwill be held every Wednesday.
For the on-site negotiations by branches, at the branch-level congress that will be held by June 8, specific requests will be finalized and negotiation members will be also determined. With that, the meeting will take place on a regular basis between June and July.
In preparation for the central industry-level requests and struggle plans, President Na and other leadership members have been travelling to each city and town for roundtable meetings with branch members since April 20. From the meetings, they have listened to branch union leadership and discussed the content and agenda for central negotiations and future directions of their struggles.
Meanwhile, the temporary congress finalized “on-site discussion agenda for KHMU’s future vision”. The agenda includes reflection of the past 20 years’ accomplishments and nine challenges to beef up the industry-level union movement in the era of 200,000 unionized workers. Besides, the participating congress members also adopted “Special Resolution to Organize Irregular Workers and Regularize their Positions”, having upfront the activities for converting indirect to direct employments and for regularization of irregular working positions with the slogan of “No Irregular Workers in Hospitals”.
KHMU webpage: http://bogun.nodong.org/english