An association of South Korean doctors said Wednesday it was considering a second strike, arguing that the government was not keeping promises it made during recent negotiations.
The Korean Medical Association, the country’s largest group of doctors, said it would decide whether to stage the second walkout, which was suspended last week, during a general meeting scheduled for Sunday.
“Even though there is a negotiation document based on mutual trust and respect, the government is frustrating us by repeatedly breaking promises,” said Bang Sang-hyuk, a KMA official involved in the walkout. “This is a grave mistake by the state, which may lead doctors to restage the strike. The government will be accountable for all potential public damages.”
Both sides agreed to run a six-month telemedicine pilot program on March 17 and the government submitted the bill to the National Assembly on Tuesday.
The KMA took issue with the wording of the proposed bill, which says the pilot program will start only after the bill is passed. The organization insisted that the pilot program should be launched first and the wording of the bill should be changed accordingly.
The Health and Welfare Ministry argued that the wording was not a problem as it will be revised during deliberations at the National Assembly.
The ministry also added that it would fully implement the pilot project first, and reflect the results to the telemedicine bill.
Doctors staged a one-day walkout on March 10 in protest of the government’s push for telemedicine and for-profit subsidiaries at hospitals.
By Lee Hyun-jeong (firstname.lastname@example.org)