On October 2016 Philippine Nurses’ Week: Filipino nurses continue fight for a health system that cares for nurses: Working for change, envisioning healthier people!
On the occasion of October 2016 Philippine Nurses Week, the Filipino Nurses United (FNU), a rights based, mass organization of nurses, held a unity action in front of the Philippine General Hospital, with some 100 nurse-members, in white uniform, lined up along Taft Avenue giving a symbolic high level of recognition and deepest gratitude to all hard-working Filipino nurses while expressing dismay over government’s seeming apathy and neglect for our general well-being.
“We, Filipino nurses deserve rightful recognition for our invaluable contribution to the care of our people and the rest of the world. The nurses comprise the largest number of health workers and serve as front liners in the health care delivery both in public and private sector, yet, we are not adequately taken cared of and are made to suffer under dismal work conditions.” Ms. Eleanor M. Nolasco, FNU President said.
“The Filipino nurses have long been violated of their basic rights to humane work conditions, just treatment and decent compensation. FNU believes that a government that cares for its nurses is in effect taking good care of its people’s health needs.
While Filipino nurses are competent and caring, the difficult work conditions and heavy workload hamper the delivery of quality health care welfare. Consider the present situation where 1 nurse handles 60-80 patients in bedside and 1:30,000 population in community setting, nurses invariably suffer from extended, often unpaid duty hours due to severe understaffing, aggravated by very low pay, inadequate benefits and even shortage or lack of medicines, supplies and equipment to carry out their nursing tasks thus unduly compromising patient care.
We are hoping the present government would prioritize health care, as it promised, while ensuring that nurses are treated more humanely starting with just compensation and grant of their benefits.” Ms. Nolasco added.
“There are around 500, 000 registered nurses but there are only approximately 38,000 locally employed, around 200,000 working abroad, around 200,000 unemployed or misemployed. The irony remains that we have many nurses but 7 out of 10 Filipinos die without receiving any health attention. The government statistics state that there is a relation of migration to poor health status of the Filipino people.
“Many nurses, particularly in private sector and local government units receive very low pay, ranging from P5,000 to P8,000. Those in government has received a measly P21.00 increase per month. Thousands are being exploited and abused by government and private health institutions in the guise of volunteerism or training, while performing the tasks of regular staff nurse or personnel.
We challenge the government to ensure that all “endo” nurses or job order nurses and other contractuals, be regularized and not terminated, both in private and government sectors. ” Ms. Andamo, FNU Secretary-General said.
“We call on all nurses to make a stand for our right to serve our own people and uphold the people’s right to health. Because as we, nurses, fight for our rights, we fight for our people’s right to free, comprehensive and progressive health care that is responsive to the people’s needs. The government should fulfill its obligation to nurses so that we can effectively perform our duties. It is in improving the working conditions of health workers like us that we could serve our people in the best possible way. The government should enforce laws for just and living wage and humane working conditions; pass House Bill 1619 that sets P25,000 monthly minimum wage of all nurses, both in public and private sector,” Ms. Andamo explained.
As we commemorate Nurses’ Week, we challenge the government to recognize and grant our legitimate calls:
P25,000 Monthly minimum wage for all nurses!
Decent jobs for nurses!
Stop all forms of contractualization! Regularize all contractual nurses!
October 19, 2016
Download the full text version of this > nurses-wk-press-release-oct2016-final
REACTION TO “ DOH VOWS TO GO AFTER GRUMPY DOCS, NURSES”
PDI Sept 7 ‘16
We find absurd, if not insulting, the plan of DOH Secretary Ubial to field “undercover patients” in public hospitals to spot-check “grumpy” doctors and nurses. This, in response to the chiding of a “pro-poor” Visayan congressman ( Negros Or) during the health budget deliberation, who said he witnessed alleged attitude problem of doctors and nurses toward patients in a public hospital in his area of jurisdiction (PDI 07 sept16).
While there may indeed be “grumpy” health workers, especially nurses in the frontline (the OPD/ER and charity wards), we must recognize the overall environment that gives rise to such a disposition. As a long-time public health doctor, Health Secretary Ubial should have been more circumspect of the challenges health workers face day-by-day while performing their sworn duty to render care to patients. Public hospitals, in fact, are virtual showcases of the pathetic conditions of our health care delivery system: nurses saddled with heavy workload, extended duties, problem of understaffing, low wages and non-grant of benefits while contending with the lack of or inadequate supplies, medicines and equipment for patients, mostly the poor and indigent who seek hospital care when they are already in distress and gravely sick.
The Health Secretary’s quick acquiescence to the singular and limited experience of the Visayan solon seems to show how little she grasps the plight of health foot soldiers’ whose interest and general welfare she should instead be championing.
Notwithstanding the occasional “grumpy” mood, nurses and other health workers who work under constant constraints deserve commendation and should be given support in the just fight for living wage and more humane and dignifying work conditions.
The Filipino Nurses United, a national organization of nurses advocating for nurses’ rights and people’s right to health takes the lead in the campaign for P25k starting salary for all nurses; a provision in the Nursing Law 2002 specific for government nurses but which the State has deprived them for the last 14 years. This also serves as benchmark for nurses in the private sector, as well as LGU nurses under the devolved system, who are generally given subsistence wages with little or no benefits and non-secure status.
While we were hopeful that meaningful “change” will happen as promised by the new president, the Health Secretary’s policy directions appear headed toward health privatization which mean making health service more and more a business proposition that the people, including the poor, will be paying for.
The FNU was taken aback and extremely dismayed with the announcement of DBM Secretary Diokno that the police will be given an additional cash allowance of P5,000 monthly and rice allowance starting September while nurses (and also teachers) will have none because it is not “urgent.” We were aghast to hear such unfounded and even callous remark from the Secretary who should have had a more acute grasp of the miserable plight majority of our nurses’ are in.
To wit, government nurses receive an average starting salary of 18k monthly while those in the private sector get much less between 9-12 k monthly – clearly way below the minimum amount of P30k monthly that a family of 5 needs for basic survival. There is too, the Nursing Law of 2002 mandating an entry-level salary of P25K for government nurses that for the past 14 years has not been honored nor complied with by the state, in effect, a betrayal of its commitment to the nurses.
While we do not begrudge our police forces receiving the above-mentioned benefits, nurses too deserve an equal treatment as well in fair recognition of our critical role in the health care of our country’s human resource. We have long wallowed in unjust and dehumanizing work conditions that many have been pushed to seek work overseas with grave implications on family relations and even the quality of care received by our fellow Filipinos as the more experienced and skilled nurses become priority export commodity.
At the very onset of the Duterte administration, we have amply put across our petition for a 25K monthly starting salary increase for nurses in both public and private sector as nominal relief from the economic exigencies faced by lowly paid nurses. We were optimistic that President Duterte’s promise of “change” will stream down the ranks of nurses who serve yet are treated shabbily despite a Nursing Law being in place for the last 14 years.
Hence the notion that the nurses’ plight is not “urgent” not only is false and absurd but also undermines the struggle of nurses and nursing groups like the FNU, for just wage and substantial reforms in the more than a decade that the Nursing Law 2002 has been bypassed and ignored.
We reiterate our call to the President to grant nurses the justice long denied them by past administrations notably the implementation of P25k starting salary upheld in the Nursing Law of 2002 and justified by current socio-economic realities.
FILIPINO NURSES UNITED, August 19, 2016
The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) is a national organization of nurses from public and private sectors which has been campaigning for nurses’ higher wages and better working conditions.
We condemn the continued insensitivity of President BS Aquino to the plight of nurses. We, nurses, have been long beleaguered by the scourge of low wages and miserable work conditions compounded by other labor issues such as contractualization and lack of decent job opportunities.
The provision for a just and decent salary has long been a central issue of the nurses’ struggle in the last 14 years since the Nursing Act of 2002 has been passed into law. The numerical figure of P25,000.(approx.) monthly salary for nurses that somehow approximated the value of service but which has been consistently denied the nurses despite the law, has since served as a painful reminder of State indifference and wilful disregard of the welfare of nurses as an important human resource and partner in development. This crucial provision was never enjoyed by nurses because the government did not allot the needed funds.
The nursing practice in the Philippines should not only be comprehensive but more importantly be relevant and responsive to the people’s needs most especially to the majority poor Filipinos. The nurses being a vital contributor to the nation’s health and development should be given due recognition of their right to dignified professional practice through decent salary and humane work conditions.
P25,000 starting salary for nurses!
Provide decent, regular jobs and development opportunities for all nurses!
Stop contractualization in all forms, including volunteerism and unpaid labor in the guise of training programs!
Regularize all nurse contractuals!
Download: FNU position on Nursing Law vetoeing
The FNU, a rights-based national organization of Filipino nurses joins the nation in welcoming a new regime under presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte who convincingly won on a democratic, progressive and definitely pro-people, pro-poor platform.
As nurses, we are particularly elated over the campaign promise of President Rody to end labor contractualization that has become the greatest bane for the working class in recent years. Nurses, who comprise the largest number in the health workforce, have not been spared this indignation despite being professionals that perform an important role in the promotion of people’s health and social development.
Labor contractualization, in fact, has become the standard under P-noy’s “daang matuwid” administration when it launched the labor cum training program called RN HEALs in 2012 aimed to window-dress the unemployment crisis in the nursing sector by contracting new registered nurses in their numbers and deployed them as trainees in public hospitals and communities receiving nominal allowance with no job security and protection. When it came under heavy fire as a massive case of rights’ violation using nurses as cheap labor the program was phased out. It was replaced with a “better” Nurse Deployment Program (NDP), where the term of service is longer with regular pay and benefits, but still no “job security.” NDP nurses are being evaluated every 6 months with no guarantee of job security. If ever they passed the evaluation, their maximum stay in service is only two years.
Since then contractualization has morphed into many forms as “job order, emergency hiring, training programs “ but all with no job security. The practice was as rampant in the private sector giving rise to the term “endo” to mean end of contract after 5 months subject to renewal or “5-5-5” meaning personnel turn-over every 5 months. Labor contractualization is more glaring and practiced almost with impunity in local government units or LGUs because of “devolution” where the hiring (and firing) of nurses, like most LGU employees, is within the prerogative of the mayor or governor. Political patronage, in short, defines and decides the fate of the nurse.
With the government condoning “labor contractualization” in utter disregard of the constitutional right of workers to “job security”, exploitation among nurses invariably increased and heightened in the form of low wages, non-grant of benefits, heavy workload, and generally poor work conditions. And as much a casualty is the Filipino people who are deprived of quality nursing care.
In the last six years of the Pinoy administration, no substantial relief ever came the way of nurses. The Nursing Law of 2002 with its core provision of P25 thousand starting salary for government nurses remained an unfunded law. Instead, his administration allowed labor contractualization to flourish while keeping wages depressed and peddling nurses as a prized labor commodity for foreign countries that benefit from the highly-skilled and service-oriented brand of Filipino nursing.
Nurses in both public and private sector suffered under miserable and dismal work conditions with nurses in the public sector receiving an average monthly salary of no more than P20,000 and those in the private sector, roughly P12,000 monthly. In exchange for non-living poverty wage, nurses usually work for 10-16 hours straight, handling patients more than the ideal or standard nurse:patient ratio of 1:4 in the hospital ward or 1:20,000 in the community setting while saddled with other tasks and responsibilities.
P-noy called us his “boss” but treated us anything but. With the incoming administration, we’d rather be partners in the delivery of quality health care for the people and accorded professional dignity with commensurate decent wage and fair work conditions.
Implementing the Nursing Law of 2002 salary provision of P25,000.00 starting salary for government nurses and the equivalent for nurses in the private sector will be a concrete demonstration of the incoming President’s sincerity to fulfill its commitment to the working class including the nurses. Decent wages and enforcement of labor laws includes the stop of contractualization which is a gross violation of the worker’s fundamental right to job security.
Panuorin ang naging partisipasyon ng Filipino Nurses United sa naganap na Health Workers’ Day. Ito ay pagsalubong na rin sa International Nurses Week.
Video by Hiringgilya Collective.