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Industry Wide Collective Bargaining at Health and Medical Sector Dramatically Settled

 

- True industrial union leading solidarity and equality by solving the non-regular employees problem.

- Industry wide negotiation taking the lead in realization of the public property of medical service and the people’s rights to health by securing the bill of patients’ rights, one village - one hospital movement, blood donation campaign, use of domestic agricultural products and safe food material.

- KHMWU hastened the era of industry wide collective bargaining by expanding trans-enterprise dialogue mechanism for development of industrial labour relations.

1. At a.m. 2 on July 7th, 2007, the industrial negotiation at health and medical sector was settled dramatically.

The Union and the Employer in health and medical sector finally reached to a provisional agreement, agreeing in package on the debating issues at the last moment, ‘non-regular employees problem, wages and major 5 industrial agreements’, after 12 hours lasting marathon negotiation with repeated suspension and sitting at negotiation table of the 11th round of national level negotiation held at the Hanyang University Hospital.

 

2. The two months lasting medical industrial negotiation launched on April 23 came to a rupture finally on June 28 despite of the efforts to settle including labour dispute adjustment period and two times postponement of the resolved strike and the Union called a strike.

After calling a strike, the KHMWU continued on the negotiation to for settlement narrowing the gaps around debating issues, while going on the strikes of union officers or partial strikes instead of the general strike.

Without any progress in negotiation due to the unfaithful attitudes of the employers, however, the KHMWU has decided a full scale strike in July and a sorted target striking action at the vicious undertaking at the national joint conference of branch representatives and full-time officers on 3 to 4 July.

Upon the KHMWU’s resolution on strike actions of union officers from 11th of July and given a warning of target striking action at the vicious undertakings on 11 to 13 and 18 to 20 July, the Employer at the 10th round of industrial negotiation on July 5 has expressed an intention to solve the non-regular employees problem, for example, to convert the non-regular to regular status. From this on, the negotiation made rapid progress and saw a dramatic settlement at the 11th round of negotiation at Hanyang University Hospital on the 6th of July.

 

3. The dramatic settlement of KHMWU’s industrial negotiation, 4th year negotiation, seems in several aspects to be a milestone for labour movement and health and medical service campaigns in Korea.

 

Firstly, the KHMWU industrial negotiation in 2007 produced a meaningful result by carrying out industry wide negotiation focused on solution of non-regular employees problem at the time that the non-regular employees problem is becoming a social issue in the midst of enactment of the non-regular temporary employee related law.

The agreement at industry level this time linked the wage increase to the problem of non-regular employees; the both parties agreed to use 1.3 - 1.8% out of 4.0 - 5.3 % wage increase of regular employees depending on the undertaking properties to change the non-regular employees to regular status, to correct the discriminations and to improve the treatment over the non-regular employees.

Based on the wage increase of regular employees, the 1.3 to 1.8% of the whole hospitals under KHMWU is likely to sum up to 30 billion won. (For example, 1% of increased wages at each private university hospital is about 1 or 2.2 billion won.)

Accordingly, the 30 billion won obtained through the KHMWU industrial negotiation is expected to contribute to converting 5,500 directly hired non-regular employees (out of total 11,800 non-regular employees, 6,714 directly hired and 5,151 indirectly hired, 20% among total staffs) to regular status and granting employment security and welfare betterment to indirectly hired non-regular employees.

Especially, the industrial agreement is expected to prevent dismissal or outsourcing of non-regular employees engaging in hospitals based on the evil laws concerning non-regular employees, instead give benefits such as status change, discrimination correction, treatment betterment, to them.

Furthermore, the industrial agreement this time agreed to set up ‘the Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees’ at industry level to solve the problem of non-regular employees and to conduct jointly research and study on the measures for treatment improvement, employment security and phased change to regular status of non-regular employees and promote actively the effective implementation.

 

<Wage Increase of KHMWU Regular Employees and Expenses for Solution of Non-regular Employees Problems including Converting to Regular Status>

Property

2007 Total Wage Increase

Wage Increase of Regular Employees

Expenses for Solution of Non-regular Employees Problems

Private University Hospitals

5.3

3.5

1.8 (averagely)

National University Hospitals

4

2.5

1.5

Private Small and Medium Hospitals

4.3

3

1.3

Veterans Welfare & Health Care Corporation, Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences, Red Cross

To solve the non-regular employee problem in proportion to the above level

 

Secondly, the industrial negotiation seems to be a stepping stone for the Korean labour movement to step forward to the era of industry wide negotiation. The industrial negotiation this time secured trans-enterprise dialogue structure with multiple layers transcending the past industrial practices.

The industrial negotiation at the health and medical sector this year has went through several critical moments and managed to reach to the 5 agreements in package including wages and non-regular employees issues and effective operation of ‘Central Labour-Management Council’, ‘Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees’, ‘Special Tripartite Committee for development of medical industry and strengthening medical service’s public nature’. These agreements seem to activate the discussion at trans-enterprise level and dialogue between labour and management at industry level.

It is a significant progress breaking through the attack, ‘skepticism of industrial negotiation’, from the conservative journalists and business circle over the metal workers union’s political strike against the Korea –USA FTA. The KHMWU has proven practically that Korean industrial unionism can take a step forward on the sterile soil of Korean industrial relations.

 

The both parties at health and medical sector have agreed to establish and operate jointly the Central Labour-Management Council for development of labour-management relations at industrial level and discussion on the common issues at the health and medical industry. The Council’s duties are to study and research the matters concerning development strategy of industrial labour relations, research on policy tasks and establish effective alternatives for employment security through development of health and medical industry.

In addition the Council is to operate the subcommittee for preparation of industrial negotiation, where all the matters such as agenda, issues, procedures and methods are prepared 3 months before the launch of industrial negotiation. The Council is also to set up the subcommittee on employment security and educational and training, the duties and objectives of which are research and policy development in relation with employment security and industrial wage system, reform of education and training system, parliament petition of health and medical industrial training center construction fund, study for employment security of health and medical workers through use of employment funds and arrangement of measures for reform of private school pension system.

 

Thirdly, the both parties at health and medical sector, recognising their position being responsible for the life of patient and to strengthen the public nature of medical institutions and their social contribution, agreed to respect the rights of patients and formulate ‘the Bill of Patients’ Rights’ to provide the best medical service to be put into practice jointly. They agreed to secure enough wards legally necessary and make efforts to secure ward and facilities of reasonable size for comfortable environments.

Furthermore, the both parties agreed to provide the patients with safe domestic agricultural products and carry out jointly the campaign of sisterhood relationship between one union region or branch – one rural village for urban-rural exchange. This agreement will be a valuable base for joining actively the safe food campaign, which gets high social interest recently, as the medical institutions set a good example. The KHMWU, with this agreement as a momentum, will extend together with teachers’ union the campaign of supplying domestic pro-environmental agricultural products and safe foods to the patients and children. The KHMWU will arrange the phased measures for the hospital it organises to be reborn as medical institutions supplying pro-environmental domestic agricultural products.

Besides the both Parties agreed to promote jointly the medical volunteer activities in order to expand medical benefits towards socially isolated groups such as migrant workers and medically deficient areas, and actively take part in the blood donation campaign to improve the blood shortage situation of the medical institutions.

 

Fourthly, under the situation that the compulsory arbitration act that has been a synonym for labour repression banning voluntary negotiation between labour and management is to be abolished next year, the compulsory arbitration was adjourned thanks to the Central Labour Commission’s active intervention, which enables the lawful strike. On this, the Union effectively let the employers and the public know its demands while minimising the patients’ inconvenience by adopting flexible tactics instead of unreasonable strike actions. The both parties could make an agreement quickly through voluntary compromise respecting legal provisions. The 2007 industrial negotiation proved again that the labour management voluntary negotiation would be further promoted without the compulsory arbitration.

 

4. Upon signing at the central agreement (provisional) at am 2 on July 7, the KHMWU will focus its efforts on workplace negotiation. During the negotiation at workplace level, the Union will concentrate strike actions on the hospitals who are negative in solving the problem of non-regular employees that has been already agreed at central level., by means of diagonal negotiation.

For this purpose, the KHMWU set up a concentrated negotiation period, July 9(Monday) to 13(Friday), during which the Union will conduct intensive negotiation in order to conclude the workplace negotiation including solution of non-regular employees problems at each branch level as well as the unsettled issues concerning undertaking properties like Korea Red Cross and Korea Veterans Welfare & Health Care Corporation.

The Union also adjourned the union officers’ strike that was to start from July 11, but will organise concentrated struggles between July 18 and 20 against the hospitals that are negative in solving the non-regular employee problems and the unsettled property related issues left at central level and are too unfaithful to drive the workplace negotiation to a rupture. If the negotiation is not settled by July 23, the Union will organise all-out strike from July 23 mobilising all negotiation and struggle strength it has.

 

5. In addition, the KHMWU decided, as part of solidarity struggles, to join actively the strike actions July 8 focused on E-Land shops that dismissed the non-regular workers without distinction and changed subcontractors at discretion. It also decided to intensify the joint solidarity struggle when the Yonsei University Hospital Workers’ Union goes on the general strike warned to be on July 10.

 

6. The KHMWU, established in 1998 as the first industrial union in Korea, has done industry wide negotiation every year for four years since 2004, and produced a dramatic compromise finally through several crises after many complications due to the employer’s unfaithful attitudes. As the industrial negotiation in the first year the employers’ organisation has been created the Union expects has been settled not being driven into catastrophe through critical crises, the union expects it makes a momentum for the industrial relations to be mature and develop. A fundamental measure, however, should be made against the structural limits that the industrial negotiation is challenged by the insincere attitude and incitement of stubborn actions of some hospitals hiding behind the huge curtain of industrial negotiation at national level. For this, not only various legal system that can prevent the employers’ unfaithful negotiation at industry level should be arranged but the newly launched employers’ association should endeavor to secure leadership within themselves.

 

At the same time, the union urges the employer to try to make amicable agreement through faithful negotiation at the workplace negotiations that begin in earnest soon after the provisional agreement at the central level..

Especially the industrial agreement this year is a result of promoting employment security in share from the viewpoint that workers, whether regular or non-regular, are one, and is believed certainly to be a momentum to increase jobs, stable jobs and fine quality jobs. The agreement will do right function to provide good quality medical service to the patients. Moreover the industrial agreement is a social solidarity action realising solidarity and equality, the spirit of labour movement transcending the regular workers and enterprise oriented limitations. All these would not be possible without the ‘industrial unionism’.

 

Now that the KHMWU has made a forward-looking decision, the hospital employers should come out sincerely at negotiation table, not mobilizing the expedient or unfaithful methods, various kinds of perversion and deception with an aim to save wage costs, not destroying the spirit of labour management agreement concerning non-regular employees. Under the conditions that non-regular employees problem becomes a social issue and the public attention is given to the outcome of industrial negotiation at health and medical industry that sets up a milestone and a new model for solving the problem of non-regular employees, the Union hopes that the hospital employers should not ignore the social expectation and responsibility and urges that the employers should not stop endeavouring jointly with the union to make the hospital treating the patients’ health and life “the hospitals without non-regular employees, rendering the best medical service to people through employment security”. Finally, the Union expects the employers to consider jointly the solution for the pending and common problems in the industry such as strengthening public nature of the medical institution and securing the patients’ rights, measures for employment security including change of non-regular employees to regular status, etc.

 

References:

 

1) Situation of non-regular employees at the sites covering by the KHMWU

2) Major agreements

3) 2007 Central Collective Bargaining Agreement in The Health and Medical Service Industry (Provisional)

 

 

Reference 1) Situation of non-regular employees at the sites covering by the KHMWU

 

Regular – Non-regular Workers Employed by Medical Institution

- Result of survey on actual conditions of KHMWU organisation

as of July 6, 2007

 

 

Total number of staffs

No. of regular

No. of directly hired non-regular

No. of indirectly hired non-regular

Public (Veterans Welfare & Health Care Corporation, Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences

3,122

351

203

Public (national universities

4,078

974

801

Public (Red Cross)

2,600

611

150

Public (Local Medical Centers)

4,286

683

325

Private university hospital

24,000

3,118

2,827

Private small and medium size hospital

9,116

988

845

Total

47,202

6,714

5,151

 

Reference 2) Major agreements

 

Major Agreements of 2007 Industrial Negotiation

 

Agreements

Major Agreements

Preamble

O ‘Korean Health and Medical Employers’ Association’, launched this year, is clearly stated as the bargaining representative of the employers.

O New phrases ‘public’ development of health and medical industry and rasing ‘cultural status’ of the members are added.

Basic Industrial Agreement

O To set up ‘Central Labour-Management Council’ by merging all sorts of committees for development of labour-management relations and discussion on the common issues at the health and medical industry. (Details attached below)

Agreement on Health and Medical Care

O To proclaim the ‘Bill of Patients’ Rights’ for joint practice and to secure ward and facilities of reasonable size for comfortable environments.

O As a special institution dealing with the lives of patients, to provide the patients with domestic agricultural products and safe material including rice.

O For the Public Role and Social Contribution Medical Institutions, to promote the medical volunteer activities in order to expand medical benefits towards socially isolated groups such as migrant workers and medically deficient areas, to organise the campaign of sisterhood relationship between one union region or branch – one rural village (urban-rural exchange) and to join actively the blood donation campaign.

O To establish and operate the ‘Special Tripartite Committee for Development of Medical Industry. (Details attached below)

Employment Agreement

O To establish the ‘Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees’ for the purpose of solving the problem of non-regular employees. (Details attached below)

O Not to treat discriminately the directly hired non-regular employees who engage in the same or similar kind of work at the workplace.

O To discuss the matter of reforming the pension scheme of private educational institutions including employment insurance and industrial accident insurance at the ‘Central Labour-Management Council’.

Wage Agreement

O Wage Agreement: The details in accordance with this Agreement shall be agreed and implemented by the labour and management at the union branch level.

- Private university hospitals (including the Jeil Hospital): 5.3% increase of total wages. (including the expenses for solving non-regular employees issues: average 1.8%)

- Medium and small-sized private hospitals: 4.3% increase of total wages. (including the expenses for solving non-regular employees issues, which shall not exceed 1.3% point)

- National university hospitals: 4% (2.5% + 1.5%) increase of total wages (including welfare improvement and expenses for solving non-regular employees problem).

- Medical centers of local governments: subject to the wage agreement of the ‘2006 Central Agreement of Local Medical Centers’ signed on September 28, 2006.

- Korea Institute of Radiological & Medical Sciences: 2.0% increase of total wages. The expenses for welfare improvement and solution of non-regular employees problem shall be fixed autonomously by the labour and management.

- Korea Veterans Welfare & Health Care Corporation: the wages including expenses for solving non-regular employees problems shall be fixed autonomously by the labour and management.

- Korea Red Cross: the wages including expenses for solving non-regular employees problems shall be fixed autonomously by the labour and management.

O Wages of Non-regular Employees: the Employer shall assure higher wage increase for the non-regular employees than the regular employees.

O Introduction of Minimum Industrial Wages: to apply the minimum industrial wages that exceed the amount specified in the Minimum Wages Act. Within two months from conclusion of Central Collective Bargaining Agreement, to consider and decide the level, time and coverage of the minimum industrial wages, at the Central Labour Management Council.

Work Process Agreement

O Working condition improvement of the shift workers: to pay additively 50% premium of normal wage to shift workers (two shifts and three shifts) who are working on the day of New Year Day and Korean Thanks Giving Day. In case the existing premium pay is under 50%, the payment shall be adjusted to 50%.

O Nursing Holidays: to grant nursing holidays to the employee who has children under 3 years old after the related law enactment, upon their request for holidays for the nursing. The length of nursing holidays shall not longer than one year nor exceed the date the children concerned reach 3 years old. For this provision, the duration of holidays shall be counted in the service period.

O Measures for Employees’ Health and labour stability: to improve working environment and organisational culture in order to provide reasonable working environment and the best service for the patient.

Appendix

Article 1: All the responsibility that arises from breach of the Agreement shall be born by the defaulter.

Annex Agreement

Details on operation of the Central Labour-Management Council, the Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees and the Special Tripartite Committee for development of medical industry and strengthening medical service’s public nature

 

 

 

 

 

Major Contents of the Annex Agreement 2007

 

 

1. (Central Labour-Management Council)

 

1) The Union and the Employer shall establish and run jointly the Central Labour-Management Council for development of labour-management relations at industrial level and discussion on the common issues at the health and medical industry, after conclusion of the Central Agreement.

2) The Council shall be composed of equal numbers of members from each party, not more than 7 members each.

3) The Council shall discuss the matters concerning development strategy of industrial labour relations, researches on policy tasks and establishment of effective alternatives for employment security through development of health and medical industry.

4) To accomplish its goals, the Council shall operate subcommittee for preparation of industrial negotiation and subcommittee on employment security and educational and training.

5) The subcommittee for preparation of industrial negotiation shall start to operate 3 months before the launch of industrial negotiation and prepare all the matters such as agenda, issues, procedures and methods.

6) The subcommittee on employment security and educational and training shall aim at research and policy development in relation with employment security and industrial wage system, reform of education and training system, parliament petition of health and medical industrial training center construction fund, study for employment security of health and medical workers through use of employment funds, arrangement of measures for reform of private school pension system.

 

 

2. (Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees)

 

1) The Union and the Employer shall establish the Special Labour-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees, immediately upon concluding the Agreement, for the labour-management joint responses at industrial level to the enforcement of the non-regular employees related act.

2) The Commission shall be composed of the equal number of members from each party, 4 to 5 members each.

3) The Commission shall aim at conducting jointly research and study on the measures for treatment improvement and employment security of non-regular employees and supporting actively the effective implementation.

4) The Commission may consult with the undertakings where a dispute is raised about the solutions for the dispute and actively recommend the method to adjust the dispute.

 

3. (Special Tripartite Committee for development of medical industry and strengthening medical service’s public nature)

 

1) The Union and the Employer shall establish and operate the ‘Special Tripartite Committee for Development of Medical Industry and Strengthening the Medical Service’s Public nature’.

2) The Committee shall form a social cooperative committee embracing representatives from the Union and the Employer and the officials from governmental authorities concerned including the Ministry of Welfare and the Ministry of Labour.

3) The Committee may form subcommittees to discuss the matters as follows:

(1) Comprehensive policies on public medical service and measures to strengthen the public nature.

(2) Measures to activate local medical centers and private small and medium size hospitals.

(3) Measures for improvement of health insurance system and expansion of health and medical service budget.

(4) Preparation of social base and public fund for development of medical industry.

4) The representatives of both parties shall form a taskforce as soon as possible for operation of the Committee and promote a consultation with the governmental Ministries.

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