Gov’t health workers: Where’s our COVID hazard pay, allowance?
The labor union of the University of the Philippines (UP) staged another “Black Friday” protest on behalf of health workers employed in the state-run Philippine General Hospital (PGH), who were still waiting for the COVID-19 hazard pay and special risk allowance promised by the government six months ago.
The protest, held at the UP-PGH Oblation area by the All UP Workers Union, reiterated the PGH employees’ demand for the release of their daily P500 hazard pay and special risk allowance from March to May.
“Six months have passed. Where is the COVID-19 hazard pay [and] special risk allowance?” read one of the placards held by the protesters.
In a statement posted on its social media page on Thursday, the union said the Department of Budget and Management had yet to act on PGH’s request for a budget on the hazard pay and allowance of its front-liners.
The union also called on UP President Danilo Concepcion to “provide help to PGH regarding the said benefits.”
‘For all health workers’
Joselle Ebesate, the union’s public relations officer, said “we are protesting primarily for PGH employees, but also with us are representatives from other hospitals. We protest for all health workers from doctors to utility workers—regular or contractual.”
He said about 16,000 health workers in government hospitals and other medical facilities nationwide have not been paid their benefits.
Last week, the Alliance of Health Workers gathered outside the Senate to call for a closer scrutiny of the Department of Health’s budget.
In August, some of the group’s member nurses assigned to Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center also held a demonstration outside the hospital to demand justice for one of their front-liners, Judyn Bonn Suerte, who succumbed to COVID-19 after he was transferred from Jose Reyes to be monitored in a different hospital.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier encouraged government and private hospital nurses to go on strike if they wish to press their demand for better pay and work conditions.
In reaction to the Black Friday protests, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire assured PGH front-liners that funds were being sourced to ensure the health workers would receive their mandated benefits.
Vergeire said the release of benefits was delayed because the institution ran out of funds.
“PGH wasn’t granted an additional budget for 2020. And because of the pandemic, it spent all of its MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses),” she said.
The hospital also said in an earlier statement that it had spent all its income of more than P360 million last year to serve patients in urgent need of medical care.
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