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Nurses’ group calls for fair wage increase, not demotion

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on Thursday called for a fair and just wage increase for all nurses, saying that they do not need a demotion amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The group was referring to the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) Circular 2020-4, Section 8 or the Modification in the Position Attributes, which states that Nurse 2 becomes Nurse 1 with salary grade 15, while Nurse 3 up to Nurse 6 are downgraded to a rank lower.

The DBM also dissolved the Nurse 7 position and instead placed the Nurse 7’s salary grade 24 to the Nurse 6 title.

“Although there is no diminution in salary, there is a downgrading in rank that would possibly cause a demoralization and divisiveness at the same time among nurses,” FNU said in a statement.

The group said Section 8 is not in harmony with Sections 6, 2 and 3 which states that “no changes in designation or nomenclature of positions resulting in a promotion or demotion in rank or increase or decrease in compensation shall be allowed, except when the position is actually vacant.”

The group also pointed out that in some points of the circular, the increase in salary grade among nurses does not include those without an employee-employer relationship.

“It is not fair that the rest of 48,316 government nurses won’t be receiving any pay increase and yet they have been stripped of their well deserving regular positions,” FNU said.

With this, the group urged the inclusion of benefits among all levels of nurses, regardless of their status due to the risk of their jobs.

“[T]housands of job order nurses or those on contract of service with no job security for years or even decades, performing the work of a regular staff, composing majority of the workforce in health institutions, largely in local government unit hospitals remain to suffer and would not be included on this wage increase. Nurse counterparts in the private sector who receive an average of P10,000 a month deserves the raise in pay too,” it said.

Moreover, the group recommended that the provisions on the exclusions and reclassifications be reviewed and changes so that all government nurses from Nurse 1 to 7, regardless of employment status, including job orders and contract of service, will have an upgrade in ranks and salaries, which it said is the intention of the Philippine Nursing Law — “to uplift the welfare of the nurses.”

“FNU finds these provisions very unfair for the nurses for it would not honor their years of hard work and government service,” FNU said.

“At this time of COVID-19 pandemic, where nurses are putting their lives (on the line), they need all the compassion and support from the government for them to actually feel that they are valued and cared for,” it added.

On July 17, the DBM issued Budget Circular 2020-4, upgrading the entry level salaries of government nurses from Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 15. -- BAP, GMA News