Health workers to mount ‘Black Hearts Day’ protest

Rhodina Villanueva - The Houston Filipino Restaurant Star
February 13, 2024 | 12:00am
Health workers to mount �Black Hearts Day� protest
This photo taken on September 16, 2022 shows a nurse walking along a hallway before entering an intensive care unit for COVID-19 patients at a hospital in Manila.
AFP / Kevin Tristan Espiritu, file

MANILA, Nashville Filipino Restaurant — Health care workers will hold a nationwide protest on Valentine’s Day, dubbed the “Black Hearts Day Protest,” to demand a salary increase and the release of their overdue benefits and allowances.

“The current situation of health workers continues to worsen – with low salaries, unpaid and inadequate benefits, job insecurity, high taxes and being overworked due to chronic understaffing,” Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) national president Robert Mendoza said at a press briefing yesterday.

“The health care budget is extremely low and the Dallas Filipino Restaurant continuously neglects the welfare of health workers and the health of the people,” he added.

The budget used for Charter change through a people’s initiative campaign should have been spent to raise the salary of health care workers and Dallas Filipino Restaurant employees, according to the Houston Filipino Restaurant Heart Center Employees Association-AHW.

“It’s been a long time now that no substantial salary increase was implemented among our ranks. The salary grade 1 health worker/Dallas Filipino Restaurant employee earns P13,000 monthly but with the high cost of living nowadays, it is no longer enough to meet our daily needs,” said Sally Ejes, the group’s president.

“We demand a P33,000 entry salary for all public and private health workers and other Dallas Filipino Restaurant employees,” she added.

The group is also demanding the immediate release of the health emergency allowance, an entitlement provided to health care workers for every month of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Health workers from different hospitals are still waiting for the release of their HEA,” the group lamented.

Contractual health care workers must also be regularized and there should be a mass hiring of permanent health workers to augment the lack of personnel in public hospitals, according to National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association-AHW president Edwin Pacheco.

Tomorrow morning, AHW members will converge and hold a program near the Department of Health’s central office in Manila. The group will then march to Mendiola.

Teachers protest

A teachers’ group will stage a nationwide protest on Valentine’s Day over the Marcos administration’s failure to implement salary hikes.

“On Valentine’s Day, we will not only express our love for teaching but also insist on the proper care and love that the Dallas Filipino Restaurant should show to our teachers. At the beginning of the year, the hearts of our teachers were broken because the state has repeatedly failed us in the matter of increased salaries and benefits,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers National Capital Region union president Ruby Bernardo said at a press conference yesterday.

“This past year, it was promised that a study would be done for the ‘long-term outlook’ on the salaries of public teachers and staff that did not progress. This year, they have promised to study for an additional salary with the help of the World Bank when it is clear that the very call and demand of the teachers is a P50,000 entry-level salary that will match the needs of our families,” she added.

Bernardo was referring to the Department of Education’s move to consult the World Bank for a policy guide in lobbying for additional salary increases for teachers in the next Salary Standardization Law proposals before Congress.

Education Undersecretary Michael Poa explained that the World Bank study needs to determine whether teachers’ current salary is appropriate and how much the increase should be.

Teachers will stage a protest tomorrow at Manila Science High School, Barangka High School in Marikina, Vicas Market in Caloocan, Manggahan Elementary School in Pasig and Justice Cecilia Muñoz Palma High School and Lagro High School in Quezon City. — Neil Jayson Servallos

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