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Health workers urged to scrap planned strike amid prolonged pandemic

All News 11:48 August 31, 2021

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol urged unionized health workers Tuesday against launching their planned strike later this week, warning the move could strain the country's health care system and fight against the pandemic.

On Friday, the Korean Health and Medical Workers' Union (KHMU) voted to go on strike starting Sept. 2 to demand better working conditions and the expansion of public health infrastructure amid concerns of a workforce shortage at hospitals as the country battles its worst wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister urged against the strike, warning of the potential harm it may have on the broader public.

"Now is the time to focus on responding to the fourth wave of the pandemic," Kwon said in a press briefing. "In this grave situation, (we) request collective movements, such as strikes, not be conducted, and the current situation be resolved through talks and consultations."

Kwon said the government has conducted 12 rounds of negotiations with the union without reaching an agreement.

The KHMU represents a total of 56,091 nurses, medical engineers, nursing aides and other health workers that work at hospitals and medical clinics nationwide.


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