PGH healthcare workers slam DOH risk pay rule
MANILA, Philippines — Healthcare workers at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH), the country’s largest COVID-19 referral center, on Wednesday condemned a new singular allowance scheme being introduced by the Department of Health (DOH) that they claimed would reduce their “paltry” benefits.
Members of the All UP Workers Union in the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) held a rally and noise barrage during their lunch break to protest the One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA), which they described as divisive and a “lousy attempt to scrimp” at their expense.
“For three years, we have been talking to the government yet they are always stingy (barat) and we always need to beg when it comes to our benefits,” said Karen Faurillo, the union president.
On Jan. 20, the DOH said previous benefits for health-care workers, including the special risk allowance, active hazard duty pay and meal and transportation (MAT) allowance, would be discontinued and “replaced by a more inclusive and responsive OCA.”
Under Administrative Order No. 2022-0001, health workers would be classified based on their risk level and exposure to COVID-19 and categorized depending on the type of facility they were assigned to, the work setting and their nature of work.
Those classified as high-risk level would be given a monthly allowance of P9,000 a month, while those at moderate risk would receive P6,000 and those at low risk would get P3,000.
All are high risk
Benjamin Santos Jr., the union vice president, said all workers in the hospital were at high risk.
“The fact that the virus is airborne, causing [a] surge in cases and community transmission, only makes the risk exposure classification irrelevant,” he said.
Faurillo, on the other hand, said they had yet to receive in full their P38,000 MAT allowance from September to December 2020.
“Here in PGH, [the budget given by] the DOH [was] … insufficient. We tried to stretch it so each of us got only P14,000,” she told the Inquirer.
She added that PGH permanent employees also had yet to get their COVID hazard pay during the enhanced and modified enhanced community quarantine periods because management decided to prioritize the job order employees first.
“To us ordinary health workers with small incomes, those allowances are already [included in our budget] so the issuance of the benefits is a big deal for us … These [will] somehow make us feel that we are being compensated for our work,” Faurillo said.
She stressed that the OCA policy would not be commensurate to the effort and sacrifices made by health workers.
“We also have pharmacists who prepare the medicines. Our jobs are interconnected and we are all the same so our benefits should be equal,” she said.
During the recent surge due to the Omicron variant, PGH recorded 832 infections for the first two weeks of 2022 alone.
The number of infected health workers at the hospital also rose, peaking between Jan. 11 and Jan. 13 with a total of 373.
READ: PGH now in ‘crisis mode’ as 310 health workers contract COVID-19
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