KHMU INFO 14 May, 2013
The fight for Jinju Medical Center continues over 70 days
“KHMU struggle for health for all”
Korean Health & Medical Workers’ Union (KHMU) has been continuing its fight for public healthcare over 70 days. On 26 February, the Governor of South Gyeongsang Province, Mr. Hong Jun-pyo unilaterally announced the shutdown of Jinju Medical Center. The medical center is one of 34 public medical centers which have played the key role of public healthcare in Korea.
Initially, the governor excused the chronic financial deficit of the medical center as the reason of the shutdown. KHMU refuted that the deficit of public healthcare provider was “sound deficit” and organized strong struggles against the shutdown. As a result, the public opinions against the shutdown widely spread across the nation. And then, Governor Hong argued that the real reason of financial deficit was due to the “hard-line aristocrat labor union”, laying the blame on KHMU.
As the ratio of public healthcare providers is only 5.9% in Korea, the KHMU struggle against the shutdown of Jinju Medical Center is critical and significant for defending and strengthening the public healthcare system in the country. KHMU has organized press conferences, street meetings, demonstrations, signature campaigns, hunger-strikes, hair-shaving struggle, lobby to the National Assembly and lawsuit.
On 23 April, KHMU President, Yoo Ji-hyun agreed with Governor Hong to have a social dialogue between employer and union for the coming one month. Based on this consensus, negotiation between union and employer is proceeding.
Historically, no public healthcare provider has been shut down in Korea. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the National Assembly have made clear their positions against the shutdown. Additionally, as 7 patients who were transferred from Jinju Medical Center to other hospitals have died, the critical public opinions on the shutdown are growing.
However, the governor is holding fast to his views on the shutdown and the Provincial Assembly of South Gyeongsang is planning to pass a provincial ordinance to shut down the medical center on 23 May.
KHMU President, Yoo Ji-hyun stressed, “This struggle is one of the most important struggles in KHMU history. It is the struggle against social forces who believe healthcare as profit-maker and against the privatization of public services, valuing life before money.”
KHMU President Yoo Ji-Hyun
KHMU President Yoo Ji-Hyun
Jinju Medical Center was established in 1910 and operates 470 beds as a general hospital, located in Jinju city of South Gyeongsang province. It is a public healthcare provider run by South Gyeongsang Provincial government. At the moment, 120 KHMU members are continuing their struggle.
Korean Health & Medical Workers Union (KHMU) is the largest trade union in healthcare sector in Korea with 40,000 members working in 150 healthcare providers. KHMU is internationally affiliated to PSI and UNI.
Videos of KHMU struggle
March 14: rally in front of South Gyeongsang provincial government building
April 6: “Hope March” http://youtu.be/kUx5uLTLQLE
April 20: Candle-lit rally http://youtu.be/oCjjSVmjERk
April 25: struggle in front of the Provincial Assembly of South Gyeongsang http://youtu.be/8o3IK2jbDoE
English newspaper articles