MANILA — Nurses in the private sector, especially those working in 5-star hospitals, should go on strike to "raise the value of [their] profession" amid alleged exploitation in the healthcare industry, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Tuesday.
Bello particularly condemned the widely-known practice of nurses paying hospitals to be able to work and gain experience, a vital requisite for those wanting to work overseas and earn decent pay.
"That's why I encourage nurses to go on strike para hindi maka-operate itong mga 5-star hospital. Ang lalaki ng hospital, ang lalaki ng kita nila pagkatapos ang nurses nila, may nagbabayad P6,000 a month, P10,000 a month... Sinasabihan ko 'yung nurses go on strike. Raise the value of your profession," Bello told TeleRadyo.
(That's why I encourage nurses to go on strike so that these 5-star hospitals won't be able to operate. The hospitals are big, they earn big then their nurses have to pay P6,000, P10,000 a month... I tell the nurses to go on strike. Raise the value of your profession.)
"Iyun lamang nurses sa private sector na hindi lang underpaid, they are also exploited," he added.
(Nurses in the private sector are not just underpaid, they are also exploited.)
Bello said they are now formulating a proposal to raise the private medical workers' pay and make it comparable with the amount received by their counterparts in government-affiliated facilities.
"I agree 100 percent with our nurses that they are underpaid and that is the reason why we came up with a proposal recommending the raising of the salaries of nurses and medical workers in the private sector to the level of nurses and medical workers in the public sector," he said.
This year, a Department of Budget and Management circular set the rules for the upgrading of the entry-level Nurse I position to Salary Grade 15 as stated in Republic Act No. 9173 or the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002.
The provision of the law setting the minimum salary for entry-level nurses has not been implemented over the last 18 years and is only being funded for this year after the Supreme Court upheld its validity through an en banc decision.
However, several groups of nurses decried the seeming demotion of their colleagues caused by a budget circular supposedly meant to raise the salary of entry-level nurses.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently agreed to lift the deployment ban on health care workers, including nurses, aiming for overseas jobs, putting an annual cap on outbound hospital workers at 5,000 even as the COVID-19 pandemic persists.