Gov’t nurses finally get nurses long-delayed pay increases

Published July 21, 2020, 10:44 PM

by Manila Bulletin

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado Friday issued Budget Circular 2020-4, upgrading the pay of entry-level nurses from Salary Grade (SG)-11 to SC-15 – from P22,315-P24,391 to P32,053-P34,801 a month.

 The adjustment is retroactive to January 1, 2020. It covers allr regular, casual, or contractual nurses, full-time or part-time, in national or local government agencies – but not in agencies with their own pay systems.

It came a few days after nurses at the San Lazaro Hospital, members of Filipino Nurses United, expressed their concern over their safety and non-payment of hazard pay, among other complaints. The nurses had begun their silent protest last Thursday, July 16, leaving their shoes outside the building and issuing a statement that they were being overworked and left unprotected from COVID-19.

They complained of understaffing, of insufficient personal and protective equipment and transportation and accommodation support, along with “unacceptable salary and unreasonable implementation of hazard pay.”

On the shoes which the San Lazaro nurses had left in protest outside the building, Filipino Nurses United said on Tweeter: “Hihintayin pa ba nating walang magsusuot ng mga sapatos na ito?”

But the San Lazaro management said it was compliant on salaries and benefits, with the salary scales provided by the law governing the salaries of government employees.

The DBM said its new circular on nurses’ salaries is pursuant to RA 9173, the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, whose implementation had been been delayed for years in a court case –  “Ang NARS Party-list vs. The Executive Secretary.” It was finally decided last December 21, 2019, by the Supreme Court which upheld the provision on nurses’ pay under Section 32 of RA 9173.

It was, therefore, a fortunate conjunction of events that ended so well for the nation’s nurses. The nurses of San Lazaro, the nation’s special hospital for infectious diseases, had complained of their difficult working conditions and their low pay. And the Department of Budget and Management was able to respond immediately because the Supreme Court had finally decided in favor of a law enacted in 2002 increasing nurses’ salaries.