Speech of Sister Hong Myeong-Ok to European Unionists in Rome
Sister Hong Myeong-Ok, St Mary Inchon Hospital Union President, has today addressed European unionists who are supporting the KHMU's struggle in Incheon. Her speech is below.
“Stop Bulling and Suppression of Workers Rights at St Mary Incheon Hospital”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
First of all I really thank CGIL-FP and all of you for giving me an opportunity to explain about our union dispute. I am Hong Myoeng-Ok, Catholic University St Mary Incheon Hospital Union President from Korea.
Our union affiliated with KHMU(Korea Health & Medical Service Workers Union) under KCTU(Korea Confederation of Trade Unions). Our hospital is run by Catholic Incheon Diocese with 1,600 employees and 800 beds of which size is a rather big one. However the number of union members is only 11 at the moment. 10 years ago the total number of union members was more than half of total employees, but most of them were forced to leave the union due to the hospital management’s union suppression.
Now let me explain why I came to Roma to meet Vatican authority. Last March, a local press covered that St Mary International Hospital which is another hospital run by Catholic Incheon Diocese, illegally claimed the National Health Insurance by fake of 3,000 patients and is under investigation by the police authority. This is unprecedented shocking news in the Korean medical industry history. KHMU and civic society strongly protested and condemned the hospital management.
Immediately after the news reporting the hospital management suspected me as a source of the information without clear evidence and started to bully me collectively. I denied their allegation that I gave this kind of information to the press and said I did now know any administrative information of our hospital at all but my words were ignored.
The hospital senior managers and middle managers as a group of 3-4 came to me who is working for nursing job and took violent language and threats on me in front of my colleagues and patients. They planned the bulling time in advance and formed a group. In fact these kinds of bulling were happened over the last three years as a strong weapon of union suppression by the management.
After the collective and systematic bulling and threats by the hospital managers over the last 3 years I collapsed on my way to work and hospitalized and took psycho-therapy. I requested to take 3 month sick leave but the management rejected my request and called a disciplinary and punishment committee meeting.
Now 14 medical doctors of St Mary International Hospital are accused of violating the Medical Services Act by prosecutors office. And the case of bulling is under deliberation of National Human Rights Commission and National Accidents Insurance of Korea Labor Welfare Corporation.
I and KHMU demanded the hospital management to stop suppression of labor rights and human rights and illegally taking money-making management practices and guarantee the union activity and dialogue with the union. But our offer was bluntly rejected in the last 5 months. So we informed the case to Bishop of Catholic Incheon Diocese which is responsible for the hospital management and offered a dialogue to solve the problem. But they only listened to the head of hospital management and any kind of dialogue with union was rejected after the six month from the news coverage and no single dialogue has been made.
Therefore we extended various struggle activities such as one man picketing, rally, press interviews, forum at the National Assembly, outdoor-sit in demonstration, protesting visits, flyer distribution on the streets and number of activities with civic society in the community. But the hospital management and Catholic Incheon Diocese rejected any kind of dialogue and action to resolve.
Before coming to Roma I took 7 days of hunger strike as the last demand of calling for a dialogue. But it was neglected. So I decided to come to Roma to meet Vatican authority. I want to inform this problem to Papa Francesco and really hope to resolve the problems of Catholic Incheon Diocese and Incheon Hospital.
The bottomline of this case is an illegal money-making purposed management practice. KHMU’s slogans are “Life over Money” and “Absolutely No Commercializing Medical Services”. The current problems of turning the health care services to take care of patients into commercialized business and union destruction must be stopped and the problems should be resolved. Especially this money making is so crucial problem in Korea, because the public health care services is only 10% and 90% is private health care services.
Given this situation I would like to appeal your international solidarity.
The employer will be feared by the unity and solidarity from the international unions. Your solidarity will be a great fear to the employer but a great power to me. Also your solidarity action will be a great help for us to inform the problem to Papa.
Today I feel so empowered by sharing my story to you and thank you for your solidarity and supports to me. To make a world where the life is more important than the money I and KHMU will continue to fight.
Thank you for your attention!