Health workers appeal to gov’t for wage increase
MANILA, Philippines — The Health Workers United for Wage Fight (HWUFW), a group of health workers from various public and private hospitals, urges the national government for a wage increase, mass hiring, and regularization of contractual workers amid the economic struggles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just a few days before National Health Workers’ Day on May 7, the HWUWF gathered on Wednesday to press the current administration to prioritize their welfare and heed their long-time needs.
“We, health workers, are committed to serving the Filipino people. But even as we pledge to serve our countrymen, we face the harsh realities of worsening economic conditions, increasing cost of basic commodities, and the rising inflation rate that erodes the meager value of our current wages,” the group said in a statement.
The HWUWF said a salary increase would help them with their basic needs for healthy food, clothing, decent shelter, quality education for their children, and medical conditions.
“How can we acquire all these if Salary Grade 1 (SG1) health workers in public hospitals only earn P13,000 per month while private health workers receive only P570 per day as their minimum pay? We demand a P33,000.00 entry salary for SG1 health workers and P1,100.00 per day for private health workers,” the group stressed.
“While we health workers demand a wage hike, our much deserved and long-overdue benefits like the Health Emergency Allowance are not yet provided until now,” it added.
Moreover, the group pointed out that many health workers remain contractual even when there are over 21,000 vacancies in the Department of Health.
“Contractualization policy among health workers must stop. We play a very essential and vital role in the hospitals as we help treat diseases and save the lives of our countrymen. Thus, contractual health workers must be regularized,” HWUWF said.
The group also cited the shortage of health workers due to the looming threat of COVID-19 and unpaid benefits, which also cause barriers to providing quality health care to many locals.
In a report last April 23, the United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines (UPHUP) data showed that around 20,000 workers who rendered their service in private hospitals amid the pandemic have yet to receive their COVID-19 allowances amounting to P1.9 billion.
The data showed that these workers did not benefit from October 2021 onwards.
Given this information, the group reiterated its demand for mass hiring as it called out the government for its “continued negligence.”
“We urge this government to address our just demands immediately; otherwise, our public health care system will eventually collapse,” the group said.
On May 5, the group will commemorate the National Health Workers’ Day earlier by conducting a unity march to emphasize the need for wage increases, just benefits, and job security, among others.