Health workers want DBM to clarify change in gov’t nurses’ position
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) wants the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to clarify the changes it made to the position and salary grades of government-employed nurses, claiming that the positions have been “downgraded.”
“Apparently, what DBM says in the news is contrary to the content of the DBM budget circular itself. We stand for the upgrading of salary grades, not the modification of positions,” AHW National President Robrert Mendoza said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mendoza was referring to the upgrading of the salary of those holding Nurse I position to Salary Grade (SG) 15.
But according to Mendoza, AHW members were wondering why the DBM dissolved the Nurse VII position and instead placed the Nurse VII’s SG 24 to the Nurse VI title.
“This move by the DBM and the Duterte administration is a huge insult and disgrace to the Filipino nurses’ more than 18 years of struggle for wage increase and recognition of dignity and significant contribution to our society, especially in this times of pandemic and health crisis. Thus, the DBM should clarify this as soon as possible because it has created confusion among nurses,” he said.
The AHW explained that it was seeking the raising of salary grades per position, because if the Nurse VII position with SG 24 was really dissolved, then the highest position available would be the Nurse VI post, also under SG 24.
Other developments include changing the Nurse II salary grade from SG 15 to SG 17; Nurse III from SG 17 to SG 19; Nurse IV from SG 19 to SG 20; and Nurse V from SG 20 to SG 22.
Such moves, the group said, would only add to the factors that demoralize health workers already overburdened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DBM made the modifications through Budget Circular No. 2020-4 issued last July 17 by Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado in accordance with Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002 (Republic Act No. 9173).
Item 8.0 of the circular detailed the positions of the nurses, but the Nurse VII post, which used to be under SG 24, is not on the list.
Ulysses Arcilla, a nurse who also heads the San Lazaro Hospital Employees Association, urged President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve the issue if he really cared about health workers.
“We risk our lives fighting this pandemic to save lives. But why do we still have neither to fight nor to beg for recognition of our dignity? When will the government provide the appropriate salaries for us nurses?” Arcilla asked.
“We do not need so much recognition; we need living wages, adequate protection in dealing with COVID-19 virus and just benefits,” he added.
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