KHMU send a two delegations for 4th World Congress of UNI Global Union held from 7th to 10th December 2014 South Africa Cape Town International convention Centre.
UNI World Congress Message
Motion4: including you taking back to our economy
Ms. Yoo Ji-Hyun, President of KHMU, South Korea
I am Yoo Ji-Hyun, president of KHMU, South Korea. Today I am very pleased to speak at the session of Including you taking back to our economy which is directly related to our union concerns. Our union, Korean Health & Medical Services Workers Union represent 45,000 workers in 150 general hospitals, clinics, health & medical institutions as nurses, medical engineers, care-service workers etc.
Our union took a leading role to oppose the public hospital clusre in 2013 and continued our struggle against the government’s medical industry reform plan which attempted to gove free hands to big sized general hospitals to generate the maximum profits by deregulation. Let me explain more details.
Korean health & medical services system have lots of critical problems. 90% of total medical services providers are privately owned, but only 10% are public hospitals. Despite of dominancy in the medical services market, private hospitals are in the fierce competition for more money making. Especially big three general hospitals owned by Chaebol, big conglomerates, expanded hospital faciltities and beds and high priced medical equipment. By the law, all Korean people subscribed in National Health Insurance, but the patients still pay higher portion of the total medical cost.
The ratio of nurses vs patients in the hospitals in Korea is 1/3 of that in OECD. Many nurses had to leave the work due to the difficult working conditions of insufficient workforce, longhour work, stress from emtional labor, shift system. Only 37% of 270,000 nurse license holders are working in the medical industry. The number of non-regular workers such as agency workers and outsourced workers is continuously rising. We called for the government to resolve the structural problems, but the government takes the adverse course to allow the hospitals run the other business for money making.
In 2013 chief of Kyungsangnamdo province, a local government governor, abruptly closed one public hostpial,Jinjoo Medical Center with a reason of deficit. Immediately after the announcement of closure our union responded that the deficit in the Jinjoo Medical Center is Good-Deficit and opposed the closure plan.
The current conservative government in Korea is processing to commercialize the medical industry from the end of 2013. And it clearly indicate the government has a strong will to privatize the public hospitals. Also in the new plan Remote-Medical Services through computer or mobile phone between the hospitals and the patients will be introduced. Profit-generating purposed hospitals will also be allowed in the Economic Free Zone. Hospitals can also invest through subsidiary companies to generate profits. Promoting to attract overseas patients to Korea, merger & acquistion among hospitals, easier process of importing medical equipment etc are in the new plan which is not a Medical Policy but a Investment Promotiong Policy.
In this situation our union started struggle to oppose the privatization of medical services without break time since end of last year. All kind of activities such as Education for union members, signature campaign in the streets, press conference, marching in the streets were extended. To modify Spanish union’s “white nurses wave struggle”, we mobilzed, “Life and safety March” in Seoul.
Number of civic society and unions formed “Nationawide Strugggle Forces to oppose the Medical Services Privatization” and participated in the activities. This April Philip Jennings, UNI General Secretary, visited Korea and delivered a solidarity speech at Yoido Plaza for our union members. It was a great help for us. I would like to express our thanks to him again.
This year, from June to August, 3 times of general strieks and struggle activities were taken by our union. Signature campaign drew full supports from citizens so the total number of signature reached 2 million, which exceeded the original target of 1 million signature. Despite of this huge number of signature the government do not listen to us. But we will continue to fight.
Korean unions are taking struggle to fight against the greedy capitals and to keep the democracy and human rights for workers so that we want to build a better world. Our demand is simple. Medical Services should not be a commercial goods. Medical Services should not be a tool for money making but for people’s rights to health.
Thank you for your attention.