Government’s pandemic response has been neglectful of frontline health workers (April 15, 2021)

Filipino Nurses United (FNU), as a national labor association of nurses, believes that while nurses perform their professional functions, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure nurses and health workers’ protection for a safe work environment to reduce risks of COVID-19 infection and at the same time, ensure that we have the means, capacity and resources that could make us perform our jobs well. At this stage, we reiterate our call for a serious restrategizing of COVID-19 response to save our people from this worst national public health disaster.

The supplies such as medicines, drugs and vital life-saving equipment for palliative care and treatment should be made available for free and accessible for all people. The government should not forget that if there is shortage of around 2,000 hospital beds, there is a need to ensure not only additional beds but more so additional health personnel alongside filling in the chronic gap of severe lack of current health staff in the entire health care system. The public health measures for infection control should be strongly improved providing COVID tests free and accessible, systematic contact tracing and improved quarantine services.

Under the current national state of calamity, President Duterte has the power to realign some of the COVID-budget to more relevant, appropriate and urgent COVID response. There are much sources to finance mass hiring of much needed health workers including nurses, such as additional 42,000 public health nurses in 42,000 barangays and 3000 nurses in COVID-19 health care facilities and referral centers. Allocation of around P15B can upgrade majority of nurses’ salaries in the government sector including nurses in local government units (LGUs), regardless of employment status and employer. The said budget can also subsidize the private sector nurses’ pay increase at this time of pandemic.

FNU as a national labor association of nurses reiterates the following demands:

  1. PROVIDE free, adequate, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPEs) to all frontline health workers;
  2. MASS HIRING of nurses for the 42,000 barangays and for public hospitals, with regular/permanent positions;
  3. INCREASE salaries of all nurses, regardless of employment status, including the private sector;
  4. SUBSIDIZE private hospitals for PPEs, salaries, benefits and COVID 19 supplies and services;
  5. RELEASE the delayed salaries and AHDP, SRA benefits of local government nurses;
  6. FILL UP AND CREATE more plantilla positions in government hospitals and in public health facilities;
  7. END contractualization of all nurses;
  8. END demotion in rank of all government nurses including LGU nurses;
  9. PROVIDE benefits such as hazard pay, (including Bayanihan 2 benefits of AHDP and SRA) transportation, accommodation and paid vaccination and quarantine leaves for all health workers/employees
  10. OVERHAUL the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and restrategize COVID-19 response towards more scientific and comprehensive sustainable programs.

We have made formal communications, dialogues and protest actions since last year. Lip service to health workers would not do any good for our patients and communities. No matter how good press releases are, no matter how government denies its failures, the people will remain to be the decisive judge. Accurate, truthful and scientific health statistics or indicators of COVID-19 and mortality cases will speak for itself whether the leadership and management of the COVID-19 response has passed the test of responsiveness to people’s health needs, lives and safety.

Fight COVID-19! #ProtectNurses! Ensure public safety! #JustCompensation and benefits for all nurses, NOW! Ensure safe nurse-to-patient ratio! #MassHiringNow!

Nurses’ group: Pay hike implementation for entry-level gov’t nurses still in limbo

Christian Deiparine (Philstar.com) – November 19, 2020 – 7:17pm

MANILA, Philippines — A nurses’ group on Thursday hit the delay in the implementation of the salary hike for entry-level nurses in state-run hospitals, which had been the result of a legal battle that stretched on for years. 

The Supreme Court in 2019 ruled in favor of nurses and upheld a provision in the Philippine Nurses Act which states that government nurses should have a base pay of Salary Grade 15, not 11 as issued before by the Arroyo administration. 

But in a briefing, the group Filipino Nurses United said the decision has yet to be properly rolled out, more than a year since the ruling that would raise the entry level pay to P32,000 per month. 

“There are still thousands of nurses who have not received their salary difference retroactive January 1, 2020,” said FNU national president Maristela Abenojar. “DOH and DBM failed to monitor the actual implementation of SG 15.”

The health department in an October 21 memo said the budget agency’s circular on the upgrade of salaries had stirred confusion, but what was only suspended was the reordering of ranks of Nurse II and above. 

This, however, had led to some government hospitals not complying with the SG 15, and even reverting those already with the new base pay back to SG 11, which FNU said described as “painfully degrading and demoralizing.”

“Ang hinihingi namin ay kung ano lang ‘yung nararapat sa amin, said Jaymee de Guzman of FNU. “Napakalungkot isipin na kailangan ang isang bagay na nasa batas na ay ipaglaban pa.”

(We are only asking what we are entitled to. It’s sad to think that we still have to fight for what is already enshrined in the law.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Wednesday had raised the issue at the chamber’s budget deliberation for DOH’s proposed P212 billion budget in 2021.

He said concerns were relayed to him that local governments were indeed confusing the order to include as well halting the SG 15 base pay.

Sen. Pia Cayetano, sponsor of the agency’s funding, responded that health officials would make the clarification with the LGUs.

“To clarify, ‘yung sa Nurse I implemented na ‘yun, they are given the SG 15. Ang sumabit po riyan ‘yung Nurse II,” she said.

(The Salary Grade 15 for Nurse I is already being implemented. It is only Nurses II and above that are affected by the memo.)

Nurses are among the many responding to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 413,000 and left nearly 8,000 in the country dead.

The ongoing health crisis has heightened calls for better pay among hospital workers, especially with government restricting nurses from leaving the country to work abroad in the hopes of bigger wages. 

FNU has reported too that out of the more than 11,000 medical frontliners sick with the COVID-19, most of them are nurses at about 4,600. 

https://youtu.be/o44UMhXuCWw

Filipino Nurses United (FNU)’s Tribute to Filipino nurses and all nurses in the world on the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, May 12, 2020, the International Nurses Day in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, as declared by World Health Organization.