Korea health workers hold mass action for seven key demands

On 8 June, the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (The KHMU) organized “2023 Industry-level General Strike Victory Resolution Rally” with over 5,000 union members gathered nationwide in front of Gwanghwamun street, Donghwa Duty-Free Shop in Seoul. Participants marched to Seoul Station after the rally.

The KHMU resolved during the rally to demand and fight for seven key demands.

The seven demands are as follows: 

  1. Full-scale expansion of integrated nursing care services to resolve caregiver compensation issues. 

  2. Ensuring patient safety by maintaining a nurse-to-patient ratio of 1:5 for each work shift. 

  3. Establishing appropriate staffing standards for each occupation and clarifying job scopes. 

  4. Increasing the number of clinician, eliminating illegal medical practices. 

  5. Expanding public healthcare services, discontinuing privatization of medica services, and expanding support for public interest deficits and recovery periods. 

  6. Providing fair compensation for frontline healthcare workers who have fought against COVID-19 and implementing the 9.2 Labor-Government Agreement. 

  7. Halting wrongful reform of labor law and abolishing special labor hours for specific occupations.

The KHMU is accelerating the facilitation of both central and branch-level negotiations. Since May 3rd, it has been conducting central negotiations, with the fourth round taking place on June 7. Central negotiations occur every other Wednesday. Additionally, on-site negotiations at branches are taking place with employers of each medical entity in over 200 branch offices.

In addition, the KHMU is also actively pursuing “Fundamental Labor Rights Negotiations” targeting hospitals’ and medical doctors’ associations. These negotiations aim to apply the Labor Standards Act to all healthcare workers.

The KHMU has decided to submit a labor dispute resolution application to the Labor Commission on June 27th. Branches affiliated with the private small and medium-sized hospital sector, regional medical center sector, and special purpose public hospital sector, which are currently participating in central negotiations, will submit the application based on the central negotiation situation. Meanwhile, branches which are not participating in central negotiations, will submit the application based on the negotiations at the branch level.

The labor dispute resolution application will be submitted collectively by the KHMU. The vote on whether to engage in a strike will take place from June 28th to July 5th at each branch. If there is no progress in negotiations during the 15-day resolution period following the application, the plan is to initiate an indefinite nationwide general strike starting from July 13th.