UNI Global Union affiliate the Korean Health and Medical Workers Union (KHMU) recently scored a massive win that would uplift conditions for more than one million health workers in South Korea.
Sister Na Sun-Ja, KHMU President, said, “I am pleased that we have come to a joint agreement. We look forward to carrying out joint activities as a national movement, in cooperation with the government and all relevant institutions and civil society organizations to improve the culture of the medical establishments and the quality of medical services.”
The KHMU delegation reached the ground-breaking sectoral agreement on 3 August, after a marathon 10-hour session in the seventh round of negotiations, with their counterparts representing nearly 80 medical institutions from across the country. The agreement would address and improve several key issues that have troubled the sector for years. These include:
The agreement also improves the employment conditions and workplace safety by:
The most significant outcome of the agreement was the consensus recognising that just compensation should be made for health care workers who have sacrificed and committed themselves on the front lines of COVID-19. However, given the different characteristics among the medical institutions, KHMU agreed that wage increases could be negotiated at the local level and not set at the central bargaining level.
“The KHMU has won an agreement that will not only change the lives of care workers but the South Korean care sector as a whole,” said Rajendra Acharya, Regional Secretary of UNI Asia & Pacific. “We stood with these care workers through the pandemic and through negotiations, and we will continue to stand with them as they keep pushing for progress.”