By Ernie Reyes
Government nurses pose for the camera during a break from their daily grind against the virus. (Photo Courtesy: PNA)
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva today hailed Malacañang’s reversal of a DBM circular demoting many public nurses in rank and pay “as a justice done to these brave frontliners who are working tirelessly during the pandemic.”
While thankful, Villanueva is pressing the government to take the next step in rewarding nurses and other healthcare workers for their pandemic service by granting them long-delayed “step increases” in pay.
The senator explained that under the government sector pay scale, “a salary grade (SG) has ‘eight steps,’ which means employees can remain in the same SG but can enjoy a pay hike if they move up the steps.”
Entry-level position of nurses to the public sector is SG 16, whose Step 1 monthly pay is P36,628, but this goes up to P37,891 in Step 4, and P39,650 in Step 8.
To illustrate, three nurses on paper may all hold an SG 21 item, but will have the following differences in pay: Step I, P60,901; Step IV, P63,777 and Step VIII, P67,837.
Villanueva believes that many nurses meet, if not exceed, the requisites for “step increases” based on existing rules, but agencies have been slow in granting them.
“The other roadblock is the availability of funds so I’ve been advocating that the cost of these merit increases be provided for in the yearly national budget,” Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee said.
Ideally, a government worker who has performed well should be given a salary grade promotion, he said, “but in the interim, and in between the SG promotion, a step increase will do.”
Villanueva aired his appeal in the wake of a June 1 memorandum by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, reversing a Department of Budget and Management circular, which, while raising the entry-level SG of a Nurse I, demoted Nurses II to VII to one rank lower.
The senator also backed calls by nurses’ groups that the government pays nurses affected by the temporary demotion back wages.
“The salary differential must be given to them immediately. The order must have a retroactive effect insofar as compensation is concerned,” he said. (AI/MTVN)