January 18, 2011
The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) welcomed but called for the reform of the employment program for nurses as the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday started receiving applications for RN HEALS. The group also demanded that DOLE inspect hospitals for violations of labor standards including the charging of so-called on-the-job-training fees on registered nurses.
Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, said that “Public employment programs are always a step in the right direction. Creating jobs for unemployed nurses and providing health care to rural areas is great. But RN HEALS leaves much to be desired because it fosters cheap white collar labor among less than 10% of the estimated number of unemployed registered nurses.”
PM is supporting the campaign of nursing groups for a stop to the practice of charging fees to trainee nurses. Magtubo added that “The exploitation of hundreds of thousands of young registered nurses must stop. Part of the DOLE’s mandate is the enforcement of labor laws and it must do its job in this respect. Instead of hospital owners challenging young nurses to file complaints, we demand that the DOLE make inspections of the health care facilities.”
He insists that paying nurses to be deployed in rural areas P8,000 in allowance is well below the Salary Grade 15 stipulated by law for entry-level public sector nurses. “Hazard pay, night differential and other allowances are also mandated for public sector nurses but DOLE is silent whether RN HEALS provides for such mandatory benefits,” Magtubo asserted.
“In Tunisia, a popular uprising was sparked by the desperate suicide of a 26-year old unemployed university graduate. That same hopelessness haunts the lives of more than a hundred thousand registered nurses who are unemployed and some 20,000 to 40,000 more that will be added when the next batch of nurses graduates in April. The problem of nurses who are unemployed, underemployed & abused is reaching crisis proportions and resulting in abuses like OJT fees. Meanwhile nurses who are employed are overworked but utterly underpaid,” Magtubo explained.
PM is pushing for nurses to be treated as probationary employees who are guaranteed minimum wages and other benefits plus the opportunity to become regular after the maximum of six months temporary status. “It is a triple whammy on young nurses to pay tuition fees while studying, then be denied a wage while working as a trainee and further be charged an exorbitant fee,” Magtubo declared.
“Young workers are in dire straits. Hotel and restaurant management students are being employed as trainees in the industry for no wages or below minimum labor standards. Dual tech student-workers are replacing regular workers in factories as another form of contractualization,” he clarified.