Hazard pay for contracted janitors, guards, maintenance men in public hospitals pushed | Inquirer News
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Hazard pay for contracted janitors, guards, maintenance men in public hospitals pushed

/ 11:46 AM August 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Janitors, security guards and maintenance men working in public hospitals should also receive hazard pay from the government as they face similar health risks as medical frontliners amid the pandemic, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Monday.

In a statement, Recto urged the Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management as well as Congress to come up with a package on how to augment the salary of privately contracted janitorial and sanitation workers as well as security guards “for the high-risk work they do.”

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“In the war against COVID-19, they report to their battle stations every day with the smallest of compensations,” he said.

But Recto pointed out that the “fast track route” would be for President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an order granting them benefits.

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“A cross-subsidy is allowed under the law,” the senator said, pointing out that the government has given “tens of billions” of cash aid to “people who are just staying in their homes.”

“Government is readying billions to bail out companies. Habang itong mga hospital workers na ito, na nagbubuwis ng buhay, wala man lang tayong mai-abot (Meanwhile, these hospital workers who are risking their lives are not even receiving any assistance),” he added.

Recto noted that janitors, security guards, as well as maintenance personnel are not entitled to hazard pay despite facing the same risks as health care workers because of their status as private service providers.

But the senator said these “essential personnel” should get extra pay from the national government.

“They are unheralded, but they’re important cogs that keep hospitals running,” he said.

“Sanitation workers, housekeepers, janitors, security guards, equipment and building maintenance staff who work for private companies under contract with public hospitals are frontliners, too. Without them, a hospital will collapse,” he added.

Most of these workers “quietly toil on minimum pay,” Recto said, noting that workers deployed by private contractors in public hospitals “are caught in a limbo.”

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“They are low paid but are still classified as employed—thus disqualifying them for emergency government aid for the jobless. And because they’re private employees, they’re not entitled to hazard pay given to state workers,” he said.

Recto said contracted janitors and sanitation workers are “virus killers” who keep hospitals clean, “one scrub, one mop, one wipe at a time.”

Because these jobs have been privatized by the government to contractors who tendered the lowest bid, the lawmaker said “the thin margins cascade down to workers in the form of lower wages.”

He said the government has spent P16.63 billion on contracted “general services” which include janitorial, security, sanitation and other non-professional services in 2018.

Of this amount, P1.53 billion was spent by the DOH on 60 hospitals it directly operates, he added.

This does not include expenses by 10 specialty hospitals like the Philippine Heart Center and 363 local government-run hospitals, according to Recto.

JE

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