Massive protest looms if gov't fails to pay health workers' benefits until Sept. 1 — nurses' group

Published August 23, 2021, 6:44 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on Monday, Aug. 23, said healthcare workers might resort to mass resignation as part of an impending protest if their special risk allowance (SRA) will not be released by September 1.

(Jansen Romero / File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Sa tingin ko, isa na iyan [mass resignation] sa magaganap. Ang mga kasamahan natin talaga namang frustrated na dahil walang nangyayari. Ang iba sa kanila ay gusto na talagang magresign (I think it [mass resignation] is one of the possibilities. Our colleagues are extremely frustrated over the government’s inactions. Some of them already want to resign),” FNU President Maristela Abenojar said during a virtual press briefing.

Abenojar added that many nurses have already resigned and sought better jobs abroad over low pay and poor working conditions here in the country.

Some are also now mulling for a mass resignation due to the delayed release of their additional pay which they have been waiting for more than a year now since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In fact, narinig naman natin ang sinabi ng samahan ng mga private hospitals na 40 percent na ng kanilang mga nurses ang nagresign, so far (we heard from the group of private hospitals that 40 percent of their nurse workforce have already resigned),” she said.

The FNU launched a 10-day countdown from August 23 to September 1 until the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) pay the health workers their long-delayed benefits.

President Duterte last Saturday, Aug. 21, gave the DBM 10 days to process the fund needed by the DOH to compensate health care workers amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

This, after several groups of medical professionals particularly from private hospitals complained about the non-release of their SRA and the removal of their other benefits.

If they failed to release the benefits during the 10-day ultimatum, Abenojar warned that healthcare workers from both private and public sectors will stage a mass protest.

“We assure na hindi namin bibitawan ang laban na ito kaya mas malaki at mas maingay na pagkilos ang maririnig sa September 1 kapag hindi ito natugunan (We assure that we will not give up this fight. Expect massive protests on September 1 if nothing happens),” she added.

Meanwhile, Abenojar called on other nurses to take part in the countdown through joining mass protests, as well as the public to support the actions being made by the health workers.