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The KHMU Is Awarded The 25th Jeon Tae Il Labour Prize

 

The Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union (KHMU) was awarded the 25th Jeon Tae Il Labour Prize. On November 13, together with around 100 attendees including the bereaved family and all walks of life, the Jeon Tae Il Foundation (Chairman Lee Soo-ho, Former Chairman of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions) held the 47th memorial service and the Jeon Tae Il Labour Prize award ceremony at Moran Park, Seoul, Korea.

 

The Jeon Tae Il Foundation stated the reason why they selected the KHMU as the awardee. It says that the KHMU (founded in 1998) has strenuously endeavored to regularize all irregular jobs and strengthen the public nature of medical services.

 

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The KHMU President Yoo, Ji Hyun took part in the award ceremony to receive the prize although she was still fighting the cancer.  

 

“It is a great honor to receive the Jeon Tae Il prize and we all the 55,000 union members of KHMU are very pleased and grateful,” said Yoo. She also added, “Today, we have a chance to look back on the past 20 years of the journey that the industry-based union has taken. The spirit of industry-based union movement is no other than the spirit of solidarity. Under the slogan, “life over profit,” the KHMU continues to be at the forefront in the fight for empowerment of workers, social solidarity and labor movement for public good.”

Starting from this year, the KHMU set up a tripartite TF team for decent jobs in the health and medical sector and in August, it proposed a guideline for regularization of irregular workers in public hospitals. Afterwards, through collective bargaining, the nationwide union accomplished an agreement with the employers about hiring additional 2,227 and converting 10,999 irregular workers to regular workers at 95 medical institutions.

 

In the industry-based negotiations in 2007, it was agreed that the 1.2~1.5% increase in wage of regular workers would be used to give irregular workers regular job positions and improve discriminative and unfair working conditions facing irregular workers. At that time, 2,400 irregular workers became full-time regular workers and 4,000 atypical workers’ working conditions improved. In addition, the KHMU has constantly conducted campaigns to ensure the public nature of medical services such as “Free medical service for cancer treatment,” “Hospital without a need of family caregivers,” and “National Healthcare Insurance is enough, zero cost for medical bills.” And in 2014, it has conducted general strikes three times to obstacle Park Geun-hye’s healthcare privatization attempt.

 

The Selection Committee said, “The KHMU has been writing a new history in the industry-based union movement.  And we highly evaluate the spirit of solidarity of the KHMU to create a hospital environment without irregular workers.” In addition, to strengthen the public nature of medical services and realize people’s right to health are the very spirit of Jeon Tae IL and shows what the future labor movement should look like.

Jeon Tae-il (August 26, 1948–November 13, 1970) is an iconic labor movement activist who burned himself to death to bring about the change to the desperate reality facing workers at that time. The first award ceremony was held in 1988 and since then, individuals and organizations have received the award to honor their exemplary activities and contributions to the labor movement. Last year, the Korean Railway Workers’ union received the 24th award and Han Sang-gyun, the President of Korean Confederation of Trade Unions and Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, Thai activist, both in prison, were given special awards.

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