Sunday, May 10, 2009

Labor Problems In Catholic Hospitals

For some time there has been a labor dispute in Incheons Bu Pyeong St.Marys Catholic Hospital between the labor union and the hospital that the diocese administers. The union feels that the administration is trying to get rid of the union. When the diocese took over the hospital from an order of sisters there were 240 in the union it went down to 41. There has been a freeze on the pay for three years and little communication between the hospital and union.

The hospital wants to keep the operational cost down for the hospital is in debt and the building is old so they are planning to build a 15 story hospital. The priest in the diocese who is in charge of the labor ministry feels there should be more dialogue between the administration and the union. The bishop has made it very clear in his talk for labor day that the Church is very strong on the rights of the laborers to work together to achieve their goal. Yet both sides see the problem in different ways.

You see this not infrequently. Not knowing all the facts it is difficult to take a position for all the parties have something going for them. Dialogue is important and probably some mediation would be a blessing.

The priest in charge of the diocese's labor ministry, said he believed the union had faced pressure from the hospital: "I believe that the union has been under pressure from the hospital. Losing so many union members in such a short period proves that," he said. The bishop reconfirmed the Church's recognition of labor unions’ role in his labor day message. " But the Church knows it only from the head and not the heart. That embarrasses me." he lamented. He has asked the head of the hospital to work with the union.

The Church in Korea has faced protests on labor issues at another hospital it runs. Last December, about 100 people attended a Mass outside Seoul archdiocese-run Kangnam St. Mary's Hospital in support of part-time workers whose contracts with the hospital were not renewed.

The hospital wants to run an efficient hospital to help the people in Incheon with the best medical services that can be had. This is not an easy job there is a great deal of competition and to improve the facilities it takes money. The union wants to make the life of their members better adapted to the conditions of our society. This brings about conflict. It should be obvious that the when the Church does get involved with schools and hospitals they have to run them according to the capitalistic principles of our society and that is a big danger for the Church. For many times they lose the very meaning of why they were established.

We have the law of love which when used in this context would bring a smile to the faces of many and yet the church is not in this work for profit which is the dilemma. Certainly the Church should be an example of what it means to be partners for a common goal but this requires a great deal of dialogue and the necessary disposition on the part of both parties.

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