By DELIA BAGNI and JOEL CAPULONG
BAGUIO CITY — Despite being exhausted from their duties, nurses and other health workers of Baguio General Hospital staged a protest action to commemorate the National Health Workers’ Day and International Nurses’ Day on May 7, 2015.
May 7 was officially declared as National Health Workers’ Day as mandated in Republic Act 10069. This is also the 31st anniversary of the Alliance of Health Workers, an alliance that has been in the forefront of the struggle for the demand of the economic and democratic rights of the health workers in the Philippines.
In the city of Baguio, the health workers staged a protest action to demand the Aquino government to implement the Magna Carta of Health Workers providing them just wages to live decently and to promote better working conditions.
Theresa Narreto of AHW added that on May 7, which is in observance of the National Health Workers Day as mandated by RA 10069 as well as the day of Nurses, health workers call to stop the contractualization scheme and oppose the plan to privatize BGHM, Philippine Orthopedic Center and other public hospitals nationwide, and to support the call for the approval of P16,000 National monthly minimum wage to cover their basic needs.
The salaries of nurses and other health workers in the public sector under the Salary Standardization Law (SSL) 3 cannot even provide the basic needs of their family members.
According to Alliance of Health Workers – Baguio-Benguet Chapter Coordinator Marc Mendiola, under the SSL 3, a salary grade 11 nurse receives P18,000 monthly and P9,000 for an employee occupying salary grade 1 position in the National Capital Region and other 1st class cities while salary grade 1 employees in lower class municipalities receive lower than P9,000.
The independent think-tank Ibon Foundation on other the hand indicated that the family living wage as of August 2014 must be P1,086 per day or P32,580 per month.
Nursing law of 2002
It’s been thirteen years since the enactment of the law which mandates that all nurses in the government should be compensated a minimum of P25,000 per month.
In an interview, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) – Baguio President Ruth Tingda said “Since 2002, this law was never implemented because of the SSL. Under the Joint Resolution No. 4 or the SSL3, there was no significant increase in the salaries of public health workers and other government employees particularly those occupying lower positions.”
She said that health workers in public hospitals earn P9,000 per month, which is not enough to cover their basic needs; they lack almost 30% of the mandated monthly salary. The entry level monthly wages for nurses in the private sector ranges from P4,000 to P12,000 while those in the public sector received entry level monthly salaries ranging from P15,000 to P18,000.
She cited Republic Act 9173 of the Nursing Law of 2002 mandating that the starting monthly salary grade level for government nurses should be at salary Grade 15–roughly equivalent to P25,000 monthly; this legal right has been denied the nurses for more than a decade now.
Tingda added that instead of strengthening the public health system, the government has resorted to contractual hiring of nurses where there is little or no benefits, no job security and no right to self organization. The government’s RN HEALS program, then the current Nurse deployment program or dubbed as “training deployment” was an outright case of whole sale contractualization of young registered nurses who were assigned in public facilities performing regular nursing functions but being given P16,000 monthly salary, which is way below the government prescribed minimum pay. Worst is that there are reports that the payment of salaries are delayed for three to six months.
“The health workers job security is threatened by the government’s rationalization plan Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and has further caused misery among health workers. Work contractualization becomes the rule, reducing regular employees because the government has stopped hiring for regular positions as part of the cost-cutting measures. Agency-hired and job-order employees do not receive benefits such as overtime pay, night differential and 13th month pay. Thus, we decry the state’s lack of concern for all health workers.” she stated.
May 12 is celebrated by nurses all over the world to remember the heroic contribution of Florence Nightingale when she led the first strike of nurses to fight for better hospital working conditions.
The ideal nurse to patient ratio is 1:4. The actual nurse to patient ratio in the BGH on the other hand is 1 nurse to more or less 28 patients. In some major public hospitals in the National Capital Region, the ratio is 1:50-100. The current ratio affects the quality of patients’ care delivery service which usually prolongs the hospitalization of the patient while overloading the workload of the nurses.
On this significant day a unity was reached among the employees of BGH with the support of PNA-Baguio and local AHW coordinator to forge an adhoc body as a prelude to the formation of the AHW –BGHMC chapter. It was attended by 55 health workers of BGH. # nordis.net