The Korean Health and Medical Union (KHMU) announced the end of a 23-day hunger strike by its President Sister Na Sun-Ja and Sister Kim Jin-Kyung, President of Youngnam University Hospital Union.
The hunger strike helped put an end to 14 years of strained industrial relations between the Youngnam University Hospital’s management and the union.
Through mediation earlier in the month, the two parties reached a final agreement guaranteeing Sister Park Moon-Jin and Sister Song Young Sook’s reinstatement, the management’s consenting to union activities, and a path to improving industrial relations. Additionally, the agreement ends all legal disputes the sides had against each other.
Sister Na said, “The agreement is a historic moment to move past the 14 long years of painful memories and also an opportunity to create a better way of industrial relations.”
This breakthrough agreement came, in part, thanks to the support and momentum from Korea’s trade union movement, which gathered in solidarity for Sister Park Moon-Jin and Sister Song Young Suk.
The two leaders held their ground, in protest on the hospital’s roof-top for over 200 hundred days. Several thousands of union members and community supporters from around the nation came forward over the last seven-and-a-half months to participate in sit-ins and marches to show full support for the two leaders’ fight.
The hunger strike began when hospital management wavered and reneged in late December 2019 on previously agreed conditions. To highlight the cause, Sister Na Sun-Ja, KHMU President, together with Sister Kim Jin-Kyung launched an indefinite hunger strike at the hospital itself.
Sister Kim added, “The reinstatement of dismissed workers is an important concern for both the union and the management. It came through with the nationwide support that helped us carry on the struggle through the end.”
On February 12, several hundreds of union members of Youngnam University Hospital union, many other unions and community organizations had gathered in front of Respiratory Center building of the hospital to celebrate the victory and welcomed Sister Park and Sister Song as they emerged from their roof-top hunger strike.
Rajendra A. Kumar, Regional Secretary of UNI Apro, congratulated KHMU, he said, “I am very proud of the struggle that our Sisters in KHMU put up, and I am very glad that it has led to this positive outcome.”
Adrian Durtschi of UNI Global Union also congratulated KHMU’s victory saying that “For KHMU, nothing is impossible! We fully admire the courage and commitment of our sisters.”