Health workers push for salary hike; express worry over mass layoff
MANILA, Philippines — Health workers from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) staged a protest on Tuesday urging the current administration to increase medical employees’ salaries and opposing the government’s plan to abolish their hospital in the guise of forming the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
Members of the RITM Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers’ (AHW) protest was in response to the National Capital Region wage board’s approval of a wage hike amounting to P40, which according to the group, is far from its request for a P33,000 salary increase to both public and private health workers nationwide.
Members of the alliance were likewise alarmed by the creation of the Philippine CDC, saying that this could also mean losing their jobs.
“Right now, it is not just the infectious diseases that threaten us, nor low salaries and unpaid allowances and bonuses but the imminent abolition of our hospital and the effect of losing our jobs due to mass layoff and streamlining among our ranks because of the creation of PCDC,” said Romeo Garcia, president of AHW in a statement.
The group pointed out that the formation of the Philippine CDC or the passage of Senate Bill No. 1869, also known as the Philippine Center for Disease Prevention and Control Bill, is one of the top priorities of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration.
“As of May 25, 2023, Senate Bill No. 1869 is up for approval on second reading after the committees on health, finance, and ways and means endorsed it for plenary last February 2023. It is the counterpart of the House Bill No. 6522 that was approved on the third and final reading last December 12, 2022,” AHW said.
Based on the Senate and House bills’ provisions, which state that: “Affected employees may opt for voluntary separation from service within six months from the effectivity of this Act and shall be entitled to receive separation and early retirement benefits and other benefits under applicable laws and issuances within ninety days from the date of effectivity of their separation,” AHW claimed a mass layoff and streamlining of health workers would indeed occur.
“The creation of PCDC is through a public-private partnership. Hence, tapping the private sector to modernize health human resources is to streamline health workers to have a lean and mean health workforce to cut expenses on salaries and benefits for more profit,” the group said.
“We call on the Marcos government to modernize and strengthen RITM and develop more hospitals for research and for tropical medicine, including their laboratories, using public funds. No to integration of RITM to PCDC,” it added.