Saturday, April 11, 2020

Nagkaisa calls labor secretary to review, recall health workers ban to work abroad

The NAGKAISA calls on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to review, recall and hold in abeyance the implementation of the ban of health workers to travel and work abroad.

The labor department has banned doctors, nurses and other health workers from leaving the country to work in a bid to throw more resources at its own coronavirus outbreak.

Other than a violation of the right to travel, this ban also is problematic and might be an order imposing an involuntarty servitude prohibited by the fundamental law. Under Article III, section 18(2), the Constitution speaks: "No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment of a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights has proclaimed in Article 13, that every one has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country.

We are placing our health workers in state of limbo or uncertainty. We cannot just ban health workers to go abroad to work when it is not clear whether the DOLE or DOH will utilize their skills or they will be hired or compensated during the temporary deployment suspension.

Recently, the order also caused the offloading from their flights, of a number of nurses and other health workers vacationing in the country and returning back to their work abroad.

These returning health workers may lose their livelihood for breach of contract and may be banned permanently from employment in their host countries. This is unfair for these workers already employed abroad.
The Secretary might use PASEI vs Drilon giving Labor secretary power to restrict and regulate on overseas recruitment and placement under Article 36 of LC but such ban must not run contrary to the Constitution.

Government must take care of our local private health workers if we would like them to remain in the country. They should also be given hazard pay of P500.00/day like that of their public sector counterpart.

NAGKAISA also asks the DOH to review the P500/day allowance of volunteer health worker as this P500/day is below minimum standards, unfair and exploitative.

Also, Government needs to hire instead of asking volunteers. The volunteers now should be upgraded and hired as health workers with salaries, depending on their qualifications, equivalent to the salary grades (SG) of their functions, like a nurses to SG 15 to 18 or a doctors SG 21 to 24.###

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