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[labor news] Zero job regularization at national university hospitals
▲ Unionized workers of Chonnam National University Hospital hold a press briefing to announce their struggle for the regularization of contingent jobs and more staffing on January 23 this year. [provided by the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union]

According to the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union(KHMU) on December 3, Chonnam National University Hospital(CNUH) currently uses about 600 workers who were hired in the form of indirect employment for the jobs of cleaning, facility management and car parking. In September last year, the central government issued 'the guideline for the regularization of contingent workers in the public hospitals'. The unionized workers at CNUH went on a strike for a week in September this year. Finally, KHMU and CNUH have drawn up an agreement on the regularization of indirectly hired contingent workers. Contingent workers at CNUH could cherish high hopes to become regular workers within this year. However, all of a sudden, on November 27, the hospital sent the labor union an official notification, requesting "the formation of a 'labor-management-experts consultation body' to discuss the issue of the indirectly hired contingent workers", dashing hopes of contingent workers.

Kang shin-won, the head of KHMU's Gwangju-Jeonnam Region Chapter, strongly criticized that "the request made by the hospital to form a labor-management-experts consultation body is nothing but an expression of their unwillingness to convert contingent jobs into regular jobs within this year."

The CNUH's notification sent to the labor union seems to be related to the provisional agreement signed by the labor and management of Seoul National University Hospital on November 26. The agreement reconfirmed the previous accord that the hospital will retain the indirectly hired contingent workers who are deemed to provide essential services at the main hospital and its branch hospitals, but they did not reach an agreement to directly employ the contingent workers.

As Seoul National University Hospital, the leading national university hospital in Korea, does not move toward the direct employment of contingent workers, other national hospitals are criticized for dragging their feet on the regularization of contingent workers as well. As of today, of 14 national university hospitals in Korea, there is none that has completed the process to convert agency and subcontracted workers into directly employed regular workers at the hospitals. The number of contingent workers at the national university hospitals in Korea reportedly reached about 4,000 as of last year.

The slow progress of the conversion of contingent workers into regular workers at the national university hospitals identified as the priority group is ascribed to another reason. The central government issued 'the guideline for the regularization of contingent workers in the public hospitals' upon which the public hospitals shall change contingent workers to regular workers at the time of their contract expiration with private firms. However, the guideline allowed the national university hospitals to utilize other measures like the temporary extension of the contracts with private firms when deemed necessary.

Na Young-myung, KHMU's planning director, said that "we have achieved a voluntary agreement on the direct employment of contingent workers, not through the establishment of the subsidiaries, following a long and painful negotiation process between the labor and management. However, there is no single hospital which respects the agreement. We will call for a struggle to make a breakthrough."

reported by Kim Mi-young
translated by Kim Sung-jin

번역 김성진  goyong1472@gmail.com

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