Medical Industrial Negotiation Finally Came to a Rupture! Now The Union Goes On Strike.
- Unsettled Agenda :
Supplement of the Personnel, Opposition Against Imported U.S. Beef with the Possibility of Mad cow Disease at Hospitals, Adoption of Industry-wide Minimum Wage, Industrial Solidarity Fund and other core agendas
- From July 29(Tue), KHMWU launches a partial strike, mainly targeting hospitals obstructive to the settlement.
- The strike goes along with struggles against medical privatization, the unilateral decision for the Agreement on Mandatory Duties During Strikes and evil laws
1. Starting with the formal courtesy meeting with the employer party on April 30, KHMWU joined 11 rounds of plenary negotiations, two rounds of article-by-article negotiations, 8 rounds of working-level negotiations, and postponed adjustment schedule 6 times by even deferring strike plan scheduled on 23. Despite such a great efforts of the Union, the negotiation finally came to a rupture. Therefore, the Union decided to launch the industry-level strike from 2:00 p.m. on July 29.
2. With unfaithful attitude, the employer party failed in meeting the expectation of 40,000 union members, finally driving the negotiations into catastrophe. Considering both the Union and the employer party have conducted industrial negotiations for the last five years, we expected both of the parties to reach an agreement in more matured way, but the Employers' Association-co-chaired hospitals such as Yeungnam University Medical Center and Gyeongsang University Hospital, the Employers' Association- vice-chaired Gunsan Medical Center, and the Association's general council-leading hospitals showed unwillingness to the negotiation with unfaithful attitudes, leading the negotiation to a rupture. However, in the process of the long-lasted dispute settlement, most of the articles saw narrower gap between the employer party and the Union except for 15 items and wage issue out of a total of 39 articles and 83 items. In terms of wage and other 15 items as well, the two parties tried to reach an agreement in a single package, but they failed in achieving the final agreement because the employer party constituted by 123 hospitals failed in internal coordination of dissents.
3. The settlement meeting of the National Labor Relations Commission resumed at 2:00 p.m. on 28th; one-on-one negotiation between representatives of the two parties; article-by-article negotiation between three representatives from each party; interview to both parties by members of the Public Interest Committee; and meeting between office members from each party took place, leading the negotiation session to being in process until 11:00 p.m. The employer party, however, maintained its original position of 2.2~1.6% increase in terms of wage hike. As for the industry-level agreements, it didn't accept 15 core demands by the Union such as ▲Improvement in personnel supplement and job shift system ▲ Ban on U.S. beef at hospitals ▲ Minimum industrial wage ▲Industrial solidarity fund ▲ Ban on substitute labor during industrial dispute.
What's worse, the employer party preposterously recanted its position on some items which were already agreed at working-level negotiations such as ▲ Ban on differences between deducted amount of pay due to used menstruation leave and the amount of health benefits ▲ Ban on the installation of CCTV aiming to monitor workers. In addition, even as for the position of the Union that U.S. beef should be banned at hospitals, the employer party refused to agree, offering totally non-sensible reasons that they have to maintain integrity as medical science experts and the issue is politically involved. However, as a matter of fact, 29 hospitals joined in declaring the labor management joint-statement against U.S. beef at hospitals, and 64 hospitals made sure their position not to use U.S. beef through announcement and to labor management councils.
In a word, in the negotiation, the employer party showed irresponsible attitudes by refusing the agreement on the items agreed by a total of 93 hospitals, saying that the refusal is the position from the Employers' Association.
Further more, with abusing the dispute settlement system, the employer party didn't submit its final position paper up to the end of the negotiation, gaining criticism from the National Labor Relations Commission and members of the Public Interest Committee as well as the Union.
The National Labor Relations Commission had delayed the submission of its arbitration proposal up until the last minute. Finally it resumed the settlement meeting at 11:00 p.m. and made a final decision of settlement suspension, saying that it concluded dispute settlement is difficult due to the wide gap between positions of labor and management. Following the decision by the Commission, KHMWU is to launch industry-wide strike on 29th, gaining the first legal status of strike under the proviso that the Union will serve necessary hospital duties during the walkout.
4. Right after the industrial negotiation ended up with a rupture, struggle meeting and branch head meeting were held. In the meetings, union members agreed to go strike in a different manner from usual, understanding the fact that considerable progress was made in the negotiation with only a few agendas left to be negotiated, majority of employers except for some still have a will to reach an agreement, and worker's strike can lead to inconveniences to patients. That is, the Union decided to go partial strike joined mainly by union officers and at the same time to continue negotiations with employers. As for negotiations, while continuing endeavors to achieve an agreement at the entire industry level, the Union will try to complete negotiations at the sector level and each hospital level depending on issues in case that industrial negotiations remain status quo due to some employers' unfaithful attitudes. By doing so, the Union will make the industry-wide negotiation successful eventually, based on the accomplishments of each different negotiation made at the sector or branch level.
KHMWU determined to focus its energy on the hospitals with extremely unfaithful attitudes that laid the biggest obstacle on the way to agreement. Some of private university hospitals have trampled down the efforts of the Union for settlement, impeded the some employers' will for agreement and even rejected the urge for a final decision from the National Labor Relations Commission, thereby driving the negotiation into the end without result. Based on the anger of 40,000 union members, KHMWU forcefully censures those hospitals that are the main culprit behind the rupture and warn them that the Union will make them pay for their wrongdoing. We KHMWU will let the employer party realize how wrong their decision not to reach an agreement was and how much more they have to pay for additional negotiations by continuing long-lasting struggles led by the negotiation rupture.
5. First of all, KHMWU will stage nationwide target struggles against evil hospitals that took the lead in the negotiation rupture. In a branch head meeting held on 28, it was finally decided that the first target hospital would be Yeongnam University Medical Center(President Shim Min-cheol) that co-chairs the Employers' Association. Yeongnam Univ. Medical Center has already been notorious for inhumane oppression on the trade union. For two days, 29th and 30th, the intensive target struggle against the Medical Center is to be staged, and the next target hospital will be decided at night 29th in a struggle meeting to be held at the Yeongnam Univ. Medical Center.
6. Founded in 1998, KHMWU is the first industry-level trade union in Korea. Starting its first industrial negotiation in 2004, the Union commemorated the 5th year of industrial negotiation this year in 2008. Currently, due to the unfaithful attitudes of the employer party, the negotiation has been in a bumpy road, but the Union will never fail in achieving the agreement by workers' power thereby settling a Korean-style industrial negotiation practice which can maximize positive effects of industry-level negotiations. And as part of our efforts to fundamentally fix the problems, we KHMWU will find a solution to structural limit that some hospitals' behind-the-scene tactics with unfaithful negotiation attitudes and to legal limit that restricts subjects eligible to join the negotiations, pushing the government to revise the relevant laws and putting multiple efforts to have the newly launched employers' association secure a reasonable leadership.
7. Afterwards, along with the efforts for soft-landing in negotiation agreement, KHMWU also will continue protests against the construction of a profit-making hospital in Jeju, medical sector privatization, unilateral decision of the Seoul Labor Relations Commission for the Agreement on Mandatory Duties During Strikes, and evil laws unfavorable to workers.
○ Language revision in 'respect for the international labor standard' and in 'improvement of living benefits to union members'
Basic Industrial Agreement
○ Employer representatives of all workplace affiliated with the Korean Health and Medical Employers' Association shall take part in courtesy meetings with the Union and in agreement signing ceremonies.
○ The Central Labor-Management Council meeting shall be held within one month from when the central level agreement is signed. Rules of the meeting shall be set up.
Agreement on Health and Medical Care
○ The Medical Tripartite Committee shall discuss health insurance system and policy direction of the health and medical sector and the impact of those policies focusing on medical service polarization and increase in medical bill burden on citizens.
○ Both parties shall try the best to enhance quality of medical services by taking actions such as hospital personnel supplement; to make patient-oriented hospitals; and to realize humanitarian services with offering kindness to patients.
○ T/F team constituted by both parties and led by the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs shall be established with a view to study the current medical institution evaluation system and its criteria thereby improving the system.
○ ' Bill of the Patients' Rights’and the health insurance system shall be actively introduced and explained to hospitalized patients.
○ Hospitals shall use only domestic agricultural, non-GMO, safe and fresh rice and food, recognizing that a hospital is a special institution dealing with the lives of patients.
○ Free-of- charge volunteer medical services provided to disaster-affected areas like the West Sea area and the Taean peninsular will be discussed in the Central Labor-Management Council.
○ Hospitals shall hand over the Labor Contract to non-regular workers right after signing up the contract.
○ The job security and vocational training center committee shall discuss the way to revise the private school pension fund policy, including the way to solve the issue of disadvantages to short-term hired employees of private univ. hospitals.
○ Wage of non-regular workers: the 2008 wage increase rate for non-regular workers shall be higher or the same than and with the rate of regular workers.
Work Process Agreement
○ Both the Union and the Employer shall jointly demand the government to take fundamental actions aiming to improve legal system necessary to supplement hospital workforce and create social jobs, to adjust medical cost, to secure financial resources for hospitals, and to secure workforce for small hospitals and non-capital area hospitals.
○ Work Condition Improvement for Shift Workers: hospitals shall offer 50% of the ordinary pay to shift workers on the day of New Year's Day and Thanks Giving Day. In case the bonus payment for the shift workers(two or three shift) is less than 50% of ordinary pay, hospitals shall increase the level to 50%.
○ Hospitals shall provide actions and education to prevent abusive language, violence, sexual harrassment at hospitals.
○ Hospitals shall make efforts to prevent infection and to make safeguarded injectors be subject to the health insurance.
○ In order to prevent workplace injuries of non-regular workers, hospitals shall take actions stipulated in the Act on Industrial Safety and Health; offer education on safety; measure their work environment; offer medical exam; and distribute protection devices.
Details on operation of the Central Labor-Management Council, the Special Labor-Management Commission on Non-regular Employees and the Special Tripartite Committee
July 29 2008
< Wage >
The Employer Suggestion: increase by 2.2% ∼1.6% of the total wage ⇔ The Union: 7.5%
* While media have reported different rate of pay increase as a suggestion of the Employer, the official percentage the Employer suggested is 2.2% ∼1.6%.
< Industrial Agreement>
○ The Employer shall never use the socially controversial U.S. beef with the risk of mad cow disease at hospitals and make COOL(Country of Origin Labelling) compulsory as for beef.
○ (Workplace Staff Supplement) In order to create patient-oriented environment without the need of extra nursing of patient guardians and to realize human-faced nursing services with kind responses to patients demands and needs at hospitals, the Employer shall supplement its staff under the criteria and policy as follows:
From the later half of the year, the Employer and the Union shall establish a joint T/F team with the aim to study and make actions to standardize job areas crossing different jobs, to introduce a predictable and systematic new job shift system containing the reduction in night shift, to secure work safety for all hospital workers, including nurses, to ease labor intensity and to provide more comfortable work environment for lower turnover rate so as to fundamentally improve working conditions at hospitals. In addition, the team shall operate and evaluate pilot hospital and pilot ward projects thus proactively reflecting the result on the 2009 labor-management negotiation.
○ (Shift System Improvement) In order to implement a predictable and systematic shift system that can secure hospital workers ,including shift workers' right to social, mental and physical health, from January 2010, the Employer shall introduce a new shift system based on the result of research on reduction in the night shift hours, job area standardization, and multiple shift systems. But, as for more detailed issues, the labor and management of each workplace will make discussion.
○ (Minimum Industrial Wage) In order to protect and enhance living standard of under-privileged workers in the health and medical sector, the Employer shall apply industrial minimum wage which should be higher than the national minimum wage. The industrial minimum wage shall be either 950,000 won per month or 4,100 won per hour, but out of the two, the higher shall be applied.
○ (Installation of Monitoring Devices) The Employer shall not be allowed to use CCTV to monitor and control union members.
○ (Menstruation Leave) The Employer shall make sure there will be no difference between the deducted amount from the total pay due to used menstruation leave and the amount of health benefit.
○ (Industrial Solidarity Fund) Based on the spirit of social solidarity, the Union and the Employer shall raise a industrial solidarity fund with a view to resolve the issue of labor polarization, of non-regular workers, and of job security, and to provide vocational training and to enhance welfare in the industry.
○ (Industrial Wage) In order to narrow the wage gap between workers, to realize a solidarity fund and to enhance the efficiency of industrial wage negotiations, the Union and the Employer shall form a T/F team on industrial wage research constituted by the same number of members from each party. And, considering each different situation, the two parties shall actively review and implement various negotiation ways, including + @ settlements.
○ (Broader Validity of the Industrial Agreement) The industrial agreement shall be effective to every worker in the health and medical sector
○ (Ban on Substitute Labor During the Industrial Dispute) The Employer shall not be allowed to hire substitute workforce for jobs suspended due to industrial disputes.
○ (Ban on Unilateral Cancellation of Collective Bargaining Agreements) The Employer shall not be allowed to unilaterally cancel collective bargaining agreements.
○ (Job Security) ① The Employer shall discuss following issues with the Union: business management method which affect job security and working conditions, change in operation ways, merge or abolishment between or of departments, wards, and teams, construction of new buildings and additional construction of existing buildings, personnel arrangement, introduction of new technology or new human resource management system, computer and information system, introduction of electronic labor surveillance system, new management system which can be introduced in various manners, employment of subcontractors or outsourcing and so on and forth. Ordinary regular jobs(all the time jobs) shall be confined to regular workers to be placed in.
○ (Indirectly Hired Non-regular Job) The Employer shall not be allowed to employee indirectly hired non-regular workers for jobs which are being conducted by either regular workers or directly hired non-regular workers. In case there are indirectly hired non-regular workers in those jobs, the employer shall transfer the workers' status to the directly-hired from the indirectly-hired. The Employer shall guarantee job security of indirectly hired non-regular workers and be responsible for their duties as the primary employer.
○ (Substitute Labor Supplement) At the request of workers, the Employer shall supplement vacancies immediately when vacancies occur due to maternity leave and sick leave.