Nat’l health workers day health workers demand salary increase, end to contractualization – bulatlat electricity and magnetism study guide

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MANILA – Under the heat of the scorching sun, health workers, some just finished long hours of work, marched from the office of the Department of Health to the Chino Roces bridge carrying banners bearing their long time call: “Ipaglaban ang nakabubuhay na sahod!” (Fight for a living wage!) on National Health Workers Day on Monday, May 7.

The last time they had a wage increase was in 2016 when then President Aquino signed Executive Order No. 201 or the Salary Standardization Law. The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said that under the present administration of President Duterte, their salaries are not any more sufficient to meet their basic needs especially when the government implemented the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law (TRAIN Law).

Health workers deserve a salary increase,” said AHW president Robert Mendoza. They are calling for a P16, 000 ($308) national minimum wage for public and private hospitals. Health workers in private hospitals, he said, are more exploited as they receive salaries as low as P8,000 ($154) a month.

They are also calling for an end to contractualization in the public health sector. According to Mendoza, there are more than 13,000 contractual health workers, including administration personnel, janitors, medical technologists and even nurses.

According to AHW, contractualization in government hospitals is massive. There are 180 housekeeping workers who are outsourced at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center and 400-600 contractual health workers at hospitals that are Government Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCC).

Joint Circular No. 1 series of 2017 released by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) states that the hiring of JO and COS workers in the government sector will be transferred to private manpower agencies after Dec. 31, 2018.

In the health sector, 13,000 contractual employees would be affected by the joint circular. Among them is “Choy” (real name withheld due to request) 30-year old nursing aid at the National Kidney and Transplant institute (NKTI). He has been a COS worker for three years. He has one child who is an incoming grade one pupil.

Choy said there is no word yet from the management about the contractuals’ fate at the end of this year. However he is appealing to the government to consider those who dedicate their service to the government and their patients. He said he too works for 12 hours, sometimes 15, and attends to the patients’ needs. Hospitals, he said, sometimes go beyond the ideal ratio of nursing aid to patient. “Sometimes we attend to 30 patients,” he told Bulatlat. Photo courtesy of Alliance of Health Workers

At the country’s premier government hospital the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), where Santos works as a nursing attendant, there are 292 JO workers and 386 COS workers. He said there are more patients now as President Duterte has allotted a P100 million per month subsidy for medicines and laboratories but did not add funds to hire enough manpower to provide quality health care services.

“The patients are increasing but the manpower is not. With this kind of set up, health workers, who are mostly overworked, are vulnerable to mistakes,” he said. Therefore, he added, there are more complaints against the health workers who could not perform well on their duties and responsibilities due to understaffing.