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Hospital workers struggle for new accord
[source: Korea Herald 2008-07-29 12:40]
Unionized hospital workers and management had their final round of negotiations yesterday, hoping to hammer out a last-minute agreement and prevent a general strike.

The meeting, which continued late last night, was arranged by the National Labor Relations Commission. The Korea Health and Medical Workers` Union - affiliated with the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions - and their management struggled to reach a compromise on wage increases.

If talks were unsuccessful, the union was to go ahead with their initially planned general strike, which would involve a walkout by more than 38,000 hospital workers, starting as early as today.

About 9.8 percent of hospitals and 13.4 percent of hospital beds across the nation are projected to be impacted by the workers` action.

Unionized hospital workers are pressing for a 7.5 percent increase, while management is holding to a maximum increase of 2.2 percent.

However, they were reported to be near a compromise on a 4-5 percent hike as of yesterday afternoon.

Other issues include recruiting more hospital workers, enhancing the medical facility evaluation system and banning U.S. beef at hospitals.

Hospital workers and management have so far deferred the deadline for talks six times since April 30. Both sides reached an agreement on 74 out of a total of 86 different union requests, leaving some possibility of stopping the collective action from being taken.

Earlier on Saturday, the union and its management held another round of practical talks, but produced no fruitful outcome.

"Although the deadline was extended for additional negotiations, the management did not make any requests to hold further discussion," the union said. "Even when the talks were organized by the labor relations commission, the management failed to present an improved plan for wage negotiation and it didn`t show effort to minimize the wage increase gap with us."

The last deadline was extended on Thursday as the two parties made little progress on key issues. Some 38,641 employees at 122 hospitals went back to work, waiting for the negotiating parties to reach a conclusion.

However, questions are being raised on the effects of the strike since hospitals are required by law to maintain certain functions during walkouts.

The new regulation, which took full effect in January, mandates that hospitals keep an essential workforce during strikes and permits the use of temporary workers.

To minimize the impact, the government will also run a 24-hour emergency care system at 499 emergency medical centers across the nation and offer increased medical services after working hours when necessary.

By Cho Ji-hyun

(sharon@heraldm.com)

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202 [14 Jul, 2006] KHMWU workers join Anti-FTA rally khmu 2008.05.20 9421
201 [27 Jul, 2006] Dispute in Sejong Hospital resolved file khmu 2008.05.20 14811
200 [19 Aug, 2006 ]KHMWU workers voting for strike khmu 2008.05.20 10822
199 KHMWU signed an industrial agreement file khmu 2008.05.20 22989
198 KHMWU advances KCTU campaign against file khmu 2008.05.20 10779
197 Main Demands of 2007 National Collective Bargaining file khmu 2008.05.20 11731
196 KHMU Launches 2007 Struggle file khmu 2008.05.20 9871
195 KHMU workers decides on strike file khmu 2008.05.20 10951
194 PSI solidarity message on 2007 struggle file khmu 2008.05.20 14665
193 KHMU signs 2007 CBA - A Meaningful Step for Irregular Workers file khmu 2008.05.20 13807
192 PSI Solidarity Message to KHMU 10th anniversary file khmu 2008.05.20 13054
191 Sato's Address for KHMU 10th Anniversary file khmu 2008.05.20 31843
190 Problems of the Koreans laws concerning non-regular workers inter 2008.07.14 17652
189 Main results of 2007 CBA for non-regular workers file inter 2008.07.15 17171
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187 Workplace Violence in Hospitals inter 2008.08.26 33754
186 2008 National CBA is Completed inter 2008.08.28 15041
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