The Korea Herald


Unionized hospital workers call for doctors to scrap planned strike next week

By Yonhap

Published : June 14, 2024 - 11:40

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Members of the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union stage a rally in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap) Members of the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union stage a rally in central Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

A union representing hospital workers on Friday urged doctors to abandon their plan for a one-day walkout scheduled for next week, as the medical sector has been experiencing a nearly four-month-long vacuum due to physicians protesting the increase in medical school quotas.

The Korea Medical Association, a major lobby group for doctors, earlier announced the plan to stage a one-day walkout Tuesday, which could involve community doctors and medical professors nationwide.

"There is no cause or justification for the collective walkout of doctors," the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union, which holds nurses and other related workers as members, said in a statement.

The union specifically criticized medical professors for joining the action instead of persuading junior doctors, who have left hospitals since February, to return.

Professors from the country's 40 medical schools have recently decided to join the general strike, although it remains unclear how many of the senior doctors will actually participate in the walkout.

Medical professors at four major hospitals affiliated with Seoul National University have also warned of an indefinite walkout starting Monday.

"The medical community should engage in dialogue to save essential, regional and public medical services, and cooperate to normalize medical services instead of turning its back on the people," the union added.

The KMA, meanwhile, announced the previous day that it may consider withdrawing the walkout if the government "shows a change in its stance."

Despite fierce protests by trainee doctors, the government finalized an admissions quota hike of some 1,500 students for medical schools late last month, marking the first such increase in 27 years.

The government has also ordered community doctors to continue providing medical treatment and report to authorities if they close their practices on the day of the strike. It will issue another order for community doctors to return if more than 30 percent of them join the planned strike. (Yonhap)