This is in response to Maristela Abenojar’s letter titled “Pass law on nurses’ minimum base pay” (Philippine Daily Inquirer Opinion, 14 October 2019).
I am one with the Filipino Nurses United (FNU) in their call for higher wages for nurses in both the public and private sectors. However, pushing for a P30,000 minimum base pay for nurses in both sectors will not result in the equality that the proposed policy is aiming for. Currently, Salary Grade (SG) 15 is equivalent to P30,531. Thus, nurses in the public sector are already receiving a base pay higher than what is being proposed.
When Congress decides to change the law, it usually does so prospectively. Therefore, rather than setting the minimum or base pay at P30,000, it might be more beneficial (for private nurses) if we lobby for equal pay for both private and government nurses. Equal pay would mean pegging the salary of all nurses, whether in private or public sector, at the base pay set by the law for government nurses which is SG 15. Hopefully, in the long run, any increase in the base pay of government nurses based on the Salary Standardization Law and General Appropriations Act would mean the same increase for those in the private sector, creating an equal footing for all nurses regardless of the sector they are working in.
While this is a far-fetched policy alternative, with possible resistance from private health care institutions, it will guarantee private nurses with salaries at par with salaries of government nurses. I call on FNU, the Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) and Bayan Muna partylist to review House Bill No. 3478 and look at other policy alternatives that will ensure Filipino nurses’ right to just compensation.