Health workers seeking pay hike say nothing has changed since pandemic started
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) says it would continue to ask the government for an increase in the salaries of medical frontliners as nothing has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared early last year.
On Monday, health care employees belonging to the Department of Health (DOH), public and private hospitals, and local government units staged a protest at the House of Representatives to push for the amendment of the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers (Republic Act No. 7350).
The government did allow a wage hike for health workers by reclassifying their salary grades, but it did little to counter growing day-to-day expenses, according to Edwin Pacheco, president of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers (NKTIEA-AHW).
“Our salaries can no longer compensate to the everyday needs of our family. Especially now that there is pandemic, with the fare alone, our wages is not enough,” Pacheco said in a statement.
“Last October 31, 2020, we no longer have free transportation provided by the hospital. So, I ride public transportation and since NCR are still in a General Community Quarantine (GCQ) not all PUV’s like jeepneys are allowed to travel yet, so from Antipolo I will be forced to take taxicab going to NKTI where I work,” he added.
AHW believes that amending certain provisions of R.A. No. 7305 would allow the government to take better care of health workers who had been fighting the pandemic since it erupted in March 2020.
Robert Mendoza, AHW president, said that some of the things that could be increased were the hazard pay, subsistence allowance, and the addition of other measures that may protect health workers at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
“Among the highlights of the proposed amendments is the increase of their previous benefits such as; hazard pay, subsistence allowance and laundry allowance,” Mendoza said.
“One of the highlights also of the proposed amendments is to affirm the provision of adequate, fair and just protection of the welfare and well-being of all public health workers,” he added.
While health care workers have been hailed as modern heroes for their efforts during the pandemic, the call for higher wages have been an insistent one.
During the height of the pandemic, several employees in the medical profession asked for assistance as many of them also got infected with COVID-19, while some even died from the disease.
Aside from an increase in salaries, health workers also called for the hiring of additional practitioners to avoid exhausting the country’s existing medical workforce who had been subjected to stressful conditions.
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