180 health workers protest non-release of hazard pay-A A +A
Monday, June 25, 2012
AROUND 180 members of the National Department of Health Employees Association (Nadea) in Davao Region staged a rally Monday at the office of the Department of Health (DOH) to protest the government's failure to release health workers' hazard pay.
Nadea-Davao president Jonathan Placido said they are holding a week-long protest to pressure the government to release their two-month hazard pay.
Other health workers in the country, he said, have not received their hazard pay since January this year.
He said there are a total of 33,295 affected health workers in the country assigned with DOH, and other government agencies like Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social and Welfare Development (DSWD), and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
Placido said 26,636 or 80 percent are from the DOH. In Davao Region, there are 220 affected health workers.
Nadea, which represents majority of health workers nationwide, said the hazard pay was only discontinued in 2012.
"We are simply asking for the government to continue implementing the law," said Fernando Depano, national president of Nadea.
The allowance, equivalent to at least 25 percent of the monthly basic salary of health workers receiving salary grade 19 and below and five percent for those with salary grade 20 and above, is mandated by RA 7305 or the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
Public health workers are entitled to the benefit given the risks of their jobs to safety and health.
The DOH had issued Memorandum 2012-0002 reducing the Magna Carta benefits, reportedly in response to the General Appropriations Act of 2012, which would limit their release and subject to the approval by the Department of Budget and Management.
Placido negated Department of Budget Management (DBM) secretary Butch Abad's earlier statement saying the hazard pay is already incorporated in the basic salary of the employee.
"Kung tan-awon, para sa mga workers nga naay salary grade 1, that's around P9,000, ngano gamay lang kung naapil? (If we try to look at it, for workers with salary grade 1, that's around P9,000, but why is it still low?)," he said.
He said the hazard pay is necessary as health workers are exposed to danger while doing field work.
"Kung wala nay hazard pay magkalisod na pud ang mga health workers og dili na pud maka-perform og maayo sa ilang duty (If there's no hazard pay, it will hamper the performance of the health workers)," he said, adding the cut on the benefits is an additional burden on their part.
Today, Tuesday, Nadea will hang streamers at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) and at the DOH-Davao Region.
On Wednesday, members of Nadea will sign an appeal letter to DOH Secretary Ona.
Also, members will have a ceremonial release of black balloons and candle lighting on Thursday, and a mass on Friday.
"The protest is supported by the directors of all DOH regional offices," he said.
"If their approval is pending, why have we been deprived of our benefits for several months now?" said Depano. "While the issue is under discussion, we should be given what’s due."
"The Regional Directors and Hospital Chiefs have supported our call and we are hoping Secretary Ona will do the same and make a stand with us," he added.
The Nadea will demonstrate its appeal through a series of activities at the central and 16 regional offices of the DOH and its hospitals and attached agencies affiliates from June 25 to 29.
This includes formally presenting their letter of appeal to Ona to be signed by the organization’s chapters and subchapters, the ceremonial release of black balloons and candle-lighting, and a mass and general assembly to be conducted simultaneously at the DOH central office and other venues in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. (ALC/With PR)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 26, 2012.