On 25 August, Korean Health & Medical Workers' Union (KHMWU) signed an industrial agreement with hospital employers. The agreement covering 103 hospitals with 50,000 workers (including 32,000 members) stipulated the main issues (1) to establish a tripartite (labor/management/government) committee for health sector, (2) to organize a joint campaign by management and union for public health policy, (3) to set up an information desk on National Health Insurance inside hospitals, (4) to make directly-employed irregular workers into regular status, (5) to secure employment of subcontract workers, (6) to supplement the personnel for 5-day workweek, (6) to expand childcare facilities in hospitals, (7) to strengthen the system of occupational health and safety and (8) to increase a wage by 3.5% to 5.54%.
The agreement has the following meanings: (1) this is the first ever industrial agreement consisting of Industrial Framework Agreement, Health & Medical Agreement, Employment Agreement, Labor Process Agreement and Wage Agreement, since the KHMWU was established in 1998; (2) management agreed to establish an "employers' association" representing the hospital sector in 2006, which is regarded as a foundation for strengthening labor relations at an industrial level; (3) union and management agreed to establish a tripartite committee for health sector, which would be an institutional frame to strengthen national health system for the public; (4) union and management made the agreement voluntarily without any intervention from government like 'compulsory arbitration' for 'essential public service'.
KHMWU had tried to make an industrial agreement with hospital employers since 2004, while it transformed its organizational form from company unions into industry-wide union in 1998. At last, KHMWU succeeded in making the industry-wide agreement true to the name. In order to achieve this result, the KHMWU had seriously negotiated with hospital employers since April, and staged an industry-wide strike on 24 August.
As a final step to conclude the 2006 industrial bargaining and agreement, KHMWU is going to organize a for-and-against vote on the industrial agreement by rank-and-file members between 18 and 20 September.
PHOTO. Hong Myoung-ok, KHMWU president, shook hands with Choi Il-yong, Hanyang University Hospital CEO on 25 August, when the industrial agreement was signed between KHMWU and representatives of hospital employers.