“It would be much better if President Aquino alloted the budget in this summit for the modernization of government hospitals.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The employees’ unions in three major, tertiary private hospitals said they will join the protest against the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which had turned health services into business under globalization.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 11, presidents of unions from the Chinese General Hospital, Metropolitan General Hospital and St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City called for significant wage increase and job security for health workers. They also joined public health workers in slamming President Aquino’s meager salary increase for the 1.3 million state workers, to be implemented in 2016, before the elections.
“We strongly believe that this summit will not bring good to the people. It would be much better if President Aquino alloted the budget in this summit for the modernization of government hospitals. There would have been more Filipinos who would benefit,” said Benjie Delos Santos, secretary general of Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
The government reportedly allocated P10 billion for the yearlong Apec meetings here and outside the country, starting in January.
The union leaders said not only are health workers suffering from low wages, but also massive contractualization.
Metropolitan General Hospital Employees’ Association President Jorge Hilario said the hospital has stopped hiring regular employees, only contractual workers under various terms, such as fixed term, confidential employees, or “e-hire” or emergency hire. He said these workers, receive a minimum wage of P481 ($10) a day, but do not have benefits given only to regular employees.
He added that unlike regular workers, contractual workers have no vacation and sick leaves, no free hospitalization and allowances. What’s worse is that they are often deceived by manpower agencies in their Social Security System and PhilHealth contributions.
“These are deducted from their salaries but when they check, their contributions are incomplete,” Hilario told Bulatlat.com in an interview.
Roldan “Jao” V. Clumia, St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association – Quezon City, president said contractual workers in their maintenance department have been working in the hospital for 20 years.
Edgar Hortaleza, Chinese General Hospital Employees’ Association president said the upcoming Apec summit is a gathering of head of the states who will only think up more ways to squeeze profits from people.
“Neoliberal policies such as contractualization only caused people’s suffering. We should unite and fight against these policies. We can only rely on our strength which will bring change in our current condition,” said Hortaleza.
Hilario cited the gains after contractual health workers collectively negotiated with the management: a total of 344 nurses, medical and radiology technologists, attendant and steward will soon be regular workers. Sixty five nurses already regularized, and the regularization process is ongoing for the rest, said Hilario.
“We believe that time will come when there are no more contractual workers, as long as we work together. Because the voice of the majority is the voice of God,” said Hilario.