By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL and DELIA BAGNI
BAGUIO CITY — Over 200 nurses and nursing students marched down Session Road to demand higher salary and an end to contractualization for nurses on International Nurses Day, May 12.
Ruth Thelma P. Tingda, governor of the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) Cordillera who spoke during a short program after the march said government should also raise the salary of nurse.
“We have seen on the news about the increase in the salary of our police and I can’t help but ask: how about nurses, do they not deserve a raise too?” she said.
Tingda said nurses all over the country are faced with problems that include low salary and contractualization. She called on all nurses to unite and let their voices be heard to put pressure on government to take their plight seriously.
“Let us work together and realize our theme this International Nurses Day and make nurses are a force to reckon with,” Tingda said.
“I hope we are happy with the choices we made last May 9 elections but it does not stop there. It is our responsibility to follow up on them and push them to address the health workers’ plight and the people’s right to health,” Tingda said.
Ron Mejia, 22 a nurse at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center got off his duty at 7:00AM but instead of going home he joined the march to ask newly elected President Rodrigo Duterte to be true to his word about putting an end to contractualization.
Mejia said he is just on job order at the BGH-MC for a year now who does not receive benefits, overtime and hazard pay. “My work load is no different from my regular counter part but I do not receive the same benefits as they do,” he said.
He did not say how much his monthly salary is but he said it is not even enough for him. “I am lucky because my parents understand my situation and still support me financially even if I am already working,” he said. “Without my family support, I will not be able to support myself,” he added.
Mejia shared that he worked as a call center agent right after graduating from Saint Louis University (SLU) in 2014. “I worked in a call center while waiting for any opening for nurses in the city and eight months after there was an opening at the BGH-MC so I tried my luck and I was hired on job order,” he said.
Mejia said he was earning better when he was a call center agent. “My pay at the call center was way higher than what I am receiving now. My family was not funding me then.” he said. He added that he also received benefits and overtime pay when he was at the call center.
“Being a nurse was what I really wanted since I was young even when I was aware of the problem of low wages and the heavy work load,” he said.
Mejia admitted that like many nurses, going abroad is always an option. He said that most nurses like to work in the country to gain experience to be able to work abroad. “If the situation of nurses in the country will not change, I would go abroad too,” he said.
While the country is anticipating a change in the country’s leadership, Mary Grace Lacanaria, the national vice president of the Association of Deans of Philippine Colleges of Nursing Schools challenged the incumbent lawmakers to pass the proposed Nursing Law. “They still have until June 30 to pass the Nursing Law and address the need for higher salary and job security for nurses,” she said.
Lacanaria said nurses are indispensable members of the health care service. # nordis.net