January 12, 2011
The labor group Partido ng Manggagawa (PM) called for a stop to the practice of charging fees to trainee or on-the-job-trainee (OJT) nurses in the wake of a Senate hearing yesterday on the issue. Renato Magtubo, PM chairperson, attended the hearing and supported the position of nurses groups for an end to the “exploitation of hundreds of thousands of young registered nurses.”
Magtubo lambasted the representatives of hospital owners for feigning ignorance or denying the reality of the charging of OJT fees on nurses. He argued that “Instead of hospital owners challenging young nurses to file complaints, we instead call on the Department of Labor and Employment to make inspections of the hospitals and catch red-handed this pernicious and widespread practice.”
PM is pushing for trainee nurses to be treated as probationary employees who are guaranteed minimum wages and other benefits plus the opportunity to become regular nurses 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 asserted.
“More than a hundred thousand registered nurses are unemployed and anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 more 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. This calls for protection by the government,” Magtubo explained.
PM is networking with various nurses groups to campaign for a stop to OJT fees. Magtubo added that “OJT fees on nurses are just one expression of the dire plight of young workers. 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.”
“Regulating the number of nursing schools and students are just a partial solution to the problem. Nursing schools must have the facilities to train nurses on the job and as part of the curriculum to be accredited by the CHED. And then the DOLE must oversee the working conditions of trainee nurses in hospitals,” Magtubo insisted.