Hazard pay for utility, security personnel of public hospitals pushed

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto on Monday sought the granting of hazard pay to utility and security personnel in public hospitals.

Senate Ralph Recto (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Recto, in a statement, said an extra pay should be given to non-medical staff contracted by State hospitals such as sanitation workers, security guards, and maintenance workers.

"They are unheralded, but they’re important cogs that keep hospitals running," Recto said. "Without them, a hospital will collapse,” he added.

Recto said that most of these workers “quietly toil on minimum pay" despite the "the high-risk work they do.”

"In the war against COVID-19, they report to their battle stations everyday with the smallest of compensations."

Recto appealed to the Department of Health (DoH), the Department of Budget and Management, and the Congress to come up with a package augmenting their salary. He said President Duterte could also issue an order granting them benefits.

"And why should we not, when we’ve given tens of billions of 'ayuda' (aid) to people who are just staying in their homes. Government is readying billions to bail out companies. Habang itong mga hospital workers na ito, na nagbubuwis ng buhay, wala man lang tayong maiabot (While for these hospital workers who risk their lives, we cannot give anything),” he said.

"They are low paid but are still classified as employed -- thus disqualifying them for emergency government aid for the jobless. And because they’re private employees, they’re not entitled to hazard pay given to state workers," he noted.

According to Recto, the government spent P16.63 billion on contracted general services which include janitorial, security, sanitation, and other non-professional services in 2018.

Of this amount, P1.53 billion was spent by the DoH on 60 hospitals it directly operates. This does not include expenses by 10 specialty hospitals like the Philippine Heart Center in Quezon City and 363 local government-run hospitals.