MANILA, Philippines - It's a black Christmas for health workers at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC).
Some 30 health workers from the POC trooped to the Department of Health Thursday morning and hung black lanterns to signify their dismay for not getting their hazard pay this December.
While Christmas is supposed to be a time for merry making, the health workers said they are in no mood to celebrate because the government is not giving their benefits.
President Sean Herbert Velchez of the National Orthopedic Hospital Workers Union - Alliance of Health Workers said hazard pay is recognizing the nature of work of health workers, which exposes them to occupational hazards as stipulated in the Magna Carta for Health Workers.
The hazard pay is supposed to be 25 percent of their salary, which is around P1,000-P2,000 or more.
Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa said the hazard pay is dependent on the savings of the hospital institution. He said the POC does not have enough savings to cover the hazard pay.
Herbosa said the Magna Carta is conditional and relies on the capacity of the hospital to cover it.
He also said it is illegal to push for the hazard pay because the hospital will get it from maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget, which is what it did in the past.
He also said the MOOE budget is used to improve the services of the hospital like electricity and water and not intended for hazard pay.
Herbosa said the Department of Budget and Management is in the process of determining which health worker actually needs hazard pay by identifying if they are low, medium or high risk.