Rally – Resolution for All-out Struggles and General Strike at the end of August in case of Breakdown of the Industry-level Negotiations
Urge for Fair Compensation to All Health Workers, Implementation of September 2 Agreement
Around 4,000 Union Members March to Seoul Station after Rally in the Heavy Rainy.
The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (the KHMU) preannounced an union-wide application of dispute settlement on August 9 and the general strike on August 25 in case of breakdown of the industry-level negotiation. The KHMU has been a counter-party to the management at the industry level collective bargaining and trying to come up with an ‘agreement for all health workers.’
In the afternoon on 23, on the street of Seoul, the KHMU (President Na Soon-ja) made a commitment as above with its 4,000 union members from nationwide:
Union members participating in the rally demanded fair compensation for health and medical workers who have been in the front line against COVID 19 and urged the new administration to implement September 2 Agreement between Labor and Government (a higher staffing level, more public medical services). They committed to militant struggles against the government in case the demands are not accepted. At the same time, they resolved to conduct rallies and protests to ▲ stop privatization of medical services, ▲ standardize and institutionalize industry-level collective bargaining and ▲ converse contract workers to permanent/regular workers.
In the resolution statement, the union protesters pointed out, “The end of COVID 19 pandemic is approaching but workers who made it possible in the front line are driven into more challengeable situations by pains and despair after being consumed like consumables for the past two years.” They also put an emphasis on the need to end the tragic reality that makes workers decide to leave their workplaces after the long-time endurance.
President Na Soon-ja said in her opening remarks that the new government should actively implement the September 2 Agreement. She pointed out, “Last year, we went into the general strike demanding more public medical services, a higher staffing level and a robust system responding to infectious diseases, and with a full support from the public, the historic September 2 Agreement was signed by labor and then-government. The KHMU have had meetings to review implementations every month with the Ministry of Health and Welfare but the speed of implementation is way slower than it should be. Any agreement between labor and the former government must be kept and executed regardless of which party takes power in state administration at the moment. We will get into all-out struggles for full-fledged implementation of the agreement.”
President Yang Gyeong-su of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions also emphasized in his encouragement statement, “The Yoon Seok-yul administration notified possible attacks to the labor sector even before Mr. Yoon took office as the President of ROK. They plan to give unlimited freedom to businesses and capitalists. They say they would assure more profits for capital and Chaebol (top-tier conglomerates) by easing regulations and forcing workers to work longer as well as by revising the current wage schemes. Therefore, we have to face and fight against the new administration’s plans.”
Plus, executive members working on the shop floor revealed how tough it is to work in factories at the moment. Following all the testimonies, a performance of shop floor union members was staged.
After the end of the rally, the union protesters marched to the Seoul Station in rain, holding placards with slogans.