MANILA — May 7 is declared as National Health Workers Day under Republic Act 10069 or an Act Declaring May 7 of every year as National Health Workers’ Day which was approved in April 2010. This year also marked the 38th year of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) as a national organization of health workers’ unions in public and private hospitals.
Today, health workers from various hospitals both in public and private gather together to commemorate in advance the National Health Workers Day. They earnestly demand for P25K entry salary for Salary Grade 1 (SG1) health workers, end contractualization among their ranks and free health services for the people.
“We pay tribute to the sacrifices made by so many frontline health workers during these trying times of COVID-19 pandemic. We remember those who’ve sadly lost their lives, and thank those who continue to do the vital work at great risks. As recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a vital workforce to the health care system, the health workers deserve the recognition of the state through just compensation, benefits, and work safety and security,” said Robert Mendoza, AHW national president.
“On this national day of health workers, we collectively call on the government to raise the salaries of health workers. We call on for a P25K entry salary for Salary Grade 1 (SG1) health workers. It is timely and reasonable because, in this time of pandemic and crisis, the existing national minimum wage can no longer cope with the excessive increase in the prices of basic commodities, weakening purchasing power of peso and high tax payments being shouldered by the working people like us,” Mendoza stated.
“Research group IBON said inflation rate makes a family of five (5) Family Living Wage rise to P32K per month for the basic food, shelter, utilities, clothing and transportation expense. The expenses for our children’s education is not yet included as well as the expenses for hospitalization and medicines,” Mendoza added.
As the last Health Workers’ Day under the Duterte administration, health workers are enraged by the fact that their safety, protection, rights and welfare as well as the health situation of the Filipinos continue to be neglected and abandoned by this administration.
“The Duterte administration has never increased our salaries and worst, the number of contractual health workers in Government-owned and Controlled Corporation hospitals and other public hospitals has increased in various forms such as job orders, contract of service, contractual and human resources for health (HRH); all of those do not ensure the security of tenure,” expressed Edwin Pacheco, President, National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association-AHW (NKTIEA-AHW)
We call on the government and DOH to regularize all contractual doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals hired under the Human Resource for Health (HRH) deployment program and create regular plantilla positions to ensure their security of tenure.
“Moreover, we suffer from a huge workload and extended duty hours without corresponding overtime pay. We are deeply concerned because if our working condition worsened, the level and quality of care extended to our patients are affected and may even endanger the patient’s safety. We stand for the strict implementation of Section 10 of RA 7305 or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers specifically no understaffing of health staff, as we correspondingly call for mass hiring of permanent health workers,” Cristy Donguines, President, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW (JRRMMCEU-AHW).
Despite all the hardships, we Filipino health workers pledge and continue to serve the Filipino people. Yet, the Duterte administration remains callous to the interests of the health workers and the patients we serve during this time of pandemic. In line with this, we demand for health budget increase and free health services in public hospitals.
“Sadly, as we health workers stand for our rights, express our just views, sentiments and grievances, this government through Usec Badoy and NTF-ELCAC branded us as terrorists by red-tagging our organization and leaders,” Donguines exclaimed.
As the national and local election is drawing near, the health workers are actively united in challenging the country’s future leaders to support our calls to address our economic and democratic demands and provide free healthcare services for the people.
“We call on all health workers and the Filipino people to continue the tradition of vigilance and militancy as well as remain united as this has brought us the gains and victories in our fight for jobs, salaries, benefits, rights and welfare. Let us continue the struggle towards a just, healthy, and sovereign society,” Mendoza concluded. (Kiara Lauren Ibanez/ BENJAMIN CUARESMA/ai/mtvn)