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Nurses group urges ILO to probe alleged work violations in PH

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) called on the International Labor Organization-High Level Tripartite Mission (ILO-HLTM) to investigate possible violations of work standards in the nursing profession in the country.

In a statement on Sunday, FNU said it consulted several nurse administrators from various health care facilities who told them that nurses suffer from understaffing, having to handle around 20 to 50 patients and work for 12 to 16 hours without overtime pay.

“This is in contrary to the Department of Health (DOH) nurse to patient ratio standard of 1 nurse to 12 patients per duty shift in general ward (patients requiring minimum level of care),” the group said.

FNU also said around 36,000 government nurses are contractual workers called as job order nurses or Nurse Deployment Program (NDP) nurses.

With their contracts renewable only in six months to one year, the group said nurses are discouraged from being vocal of their grievances and from joining associations or unions for fear of not being rehired or arbitrarily terminated.

“Labor standards on work hours, nurse to patient ratio and security of tenure are basic nurses’ rights that have been violated. This sad plight has led to further massive migration of nurses to other countries which offer better pay and work conditions,” FNU said.

“It is in this light that FNU is seeking the intervention of ILO-HLTM on Freedom of Association and Protection of the right to organize Convention 87,” it added.

The FNU is hoping the government would address the healthcare workers’ problems once they bring forward their concerns to the ILO-HLTM, according to a report of GMA News’ Katrina Son on Unang Balita on Monday.

“Hinihiling na namin na maipatupad nila ‘yung naaayon sa batas simula dun sa salary grade 15 or P35,000 as a starting salary for public health workers,” said FNU Vice President Eleonor Nolasco.

(We request that they implement what is in accordance with the law starting from salary grade 15 or P35,000 as a starting salary for public health workers.)

For the DOH’s part, DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an earlier press conference that they could not prevent the brain drain of the healthcare workers in the country.

However, she said the agency is doing something to mend the healthcare workers’ needs.

“We are proposing to standardize the salaries between private and public healthcare workers para wala nang (so there won't be any) distinction and it becomes competitive across the different cadres of our healthcare workers. Pangalawa (Second), we are trying to study on how we can further improve the benefits of our healthcare workers,” Vergeire said.

“Itong lahat ay ginagawa natin ngayon (we are doing all these) so we can further incentivize and further encourage our healthcare workers to stay here in the country and serve the country,” she added. —KG, GMA Integrated News