Korean Health & Metal Workers’ Union (KHMWU) held a membership vote of collective action between 29 June and 1 July. The majority of KHMWU members cast their ballots for collective action. Concretely speaking, 27,142 members participated in the vote and 18,795 members approved the collective action, which means 81.4% of turnout and 69.3% of approval rating.
During the industrial bargaining, KHMWU has called on hospital managements to form an employers’ organization in hospital sector for legitimate representation, and to fully implement the 5 day-workweek.
In the year of 2004, 104 hospital employers in major public and private hospitals made a collective agreement with KHMWU to form an employers’ organization in hospital sector and fully introduce a five day-workweek in 2005.
In the mean time, a confidential document was revealed that the hospital employers had tried to incite the KHMWU to a strike for the purpose of undermining industrial bargaining and incapacitating the union structure, which was produced by a management consultant hired by the hospital employers.
Without any change of employers’ stance in the bargaining, KHMWU is scheduled to celebrate the eve of collective action on 7th June and then stage an industry-wide strike on 8th June. Also, the union has a plan to hit target hospitals with concentrated picketing between 9th and 19th July.
Nowadays, trade union movement in Korea has been facing severe challenges: KIA motor union; dockworkers’ union and FKTU officials were prosecuted for union corruption; A political fraction obstructed the KCTU congress not to organize a debate on social dialogue; In last April, the local union of Seoul National University Hospital broke away from the KHMWU and affiliated itself to KCTU’s public service federation; The hospital employers have been trying to breach the 2004 industrial agreement, derail industrial bargaining table and regress into company level bargaining rather than industrial level bargaining by undermining the KHMWU structure.
Under these difficult conditions and obstacles, the KHWMU members approved a collective action. It can be said that this is the organizational achievement of KHMWU.
The KHMWU believes that construction and consolidation of industrial unionism is a course of labor movement and the bottom line of industrial relations in Korea. At all costs, KHMWU will do its best to step up industrial unionism and get industrial bargaining settled.