Editorial: Korea’s major labor group must end strike disrupting medical services

2023.07.14 12:11:01 | 2023.07.14 13:43:53

The inside of Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, on the morning of July 13, when the health and medical workers’ union went on a general strike. [Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

The inside of Yangsan Pusan National University Hospital in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province, on the morning of July 13, when the health and medical workers’ union went on a general strike. [Photo by Yonhap]



The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), South Korea’s major labor group, has launched a strike at the expense of public health.

The strike by 40,000 nurses and nursing assistants affiliated with the health and medical workers’ union under the KCTU has caused disruption of services at 28 private university hospitals, 12 national university hospitals, and 12 public hospitals nationwide.

The National Cancer Center, where a high percentage of workers are union members, canceled more than 100 surgeries scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

The Yangsan and main branches of the Pusan National University Hospital have been discharging hospitalized patients or sending them to other hospitals this week.

This is a bombshell for patients waiting to receive surgery.

Although emergency rooms are not related to the strike, overall operations are affected.

Patients who have completed emergency treatment cannot be transferred to general wards, making it difficult to accept new emergency patients.

Despite the chaos, 20,000 healthcare union members gathered around Seoul City Hall on Thursday to hold a rally. Such a strike as leaving their medical workplaces to threaten people’s lives must be stopped.

The KCTU even put a halt to the mainstay industry on Wednesday.

The trade union of Hyundai Motor Co. joined the political strike launched by the KCTU calling for a change in administration, causing disruption in factory operations.

Hyundai Motor says it expects record earnings in the first half of this year, but there is no room for complacency. Once it falls behind in electric vehicle innovation, it will lose in global competition.

It is irresponsible to call a political strike when labor and management need to work together. The labor union of HD Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. also joined the strike of the KCTU for the first time in nine years.

It is as good as throwing cold water on an opportunity for a rebound after 10 years of stagnation.

The government said it would deal firmly with illegal strikes, which is warranted in a country based on the rule of law. The Ministry of Employment and Labor had previously warned that Hyundai Motor’s strike was illegal, stating that “the strike was not voted on by union members.”

Since the union ignored the warning, it is right to take action according to the law.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare also said that it will “act sternly if the medical strike causes any great harm to the public health.”

The government should not waver in upholding the principle of the rule of law. Only then can we put an end to the political strike launched by the KCTU.

By Editorial Team

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