Rewarded with exploitation
AS A community nurse, I am appalled by the news “Rural nurses complain of monthly pay delays.” (Inquirer, 5/25/11)
The nurses in Catanduanes serving under RN Heals have all the right to complain, especially with the Aquino administration trumpeting the program as the government’s response to the problem of high unemployment rate among nurses. Whatever its reason, the delay in monthly pay is unjustifiable, more so because their pay is less than what they are supposed to receive under the law.
Nurses and health workers are always at the losing end of contractual employment like the one provided by RN Heals. Aside from the delays and reductions in our pay, we do not receive hazard pay, overtime pay, on-call pay and other benefits mandated by the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers—never mind that we cross rivers and trek mountains, and face all sort of hazards in our work, and we are not accorded union rights.
While hundreds of thousands of other nurses remain unemployed, seven out of 10 Filipinos die without seeing a health professional. But instead of providing adequate plantilla positions for nurses both in public hospitals and community health centers, the Aquino administration, like all previous administrations, is resorting to contractualization, job orders and casual work to save on expenditures at the expense of public health services.
We and other fellow health workers are subjected to very exploitative conditions. RN Heals actually exploits professional nurses by giving them less pay (nurses in public hospitals in the National Capital Region receive P15,649 as base pay, compared to the P8,000 + P2,000 RN Heals nurses get from local government units), without job security and benefits.
I firmly believe that serving the people in the rural areas is a noble work. Nurses and health workers who stay and continue to serve the Filipino people despite the economic hardships should be recognized and given importance, not exploited. Providing us with job security, adequate pay, adequate benefits and humane working conditions is the least the government can do to encourage most of us to stay and continue to care for our countrymen.
—CONNIE GUNDAYAO, RN,
BMA cor. Quezon Avenue, QC
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