“Even now that we are contractuals we suffer hardships because our salaries are meager. What more if we lose our jobs.”
Related story: The cost of rationalization plan to government services
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – There are only six months to go before 2018 ends but Rizaldy Saludano, 33, have yet to know if he will continue to work at Philippine General Hospital (PGH) next year or not.
The Joint Circular No. 1 series of 2017 released by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), Commission on Audit (COA) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will be implemented beginning January 2019.
In this joint circular, the hiring of job order (JO) and contract of services (COS) employees will be transferred to private manpower agencies after Dec. 31, 2018. This covers all national government agencies, Government-Owned or Controlled Corporations (GOCC) with original charters, state universities and colleges and Constitutional bodies which has contractual employees.
Saludano is an administrative aide at the PGH. He has been a contractual since 2010 where he started as JO employee in the Accounting Department. After three years he applied for the administrative aide position at the Medical and Research Laboratory Department where he was hired as contractual.
Up to now, he has not been regularized and is in the brink of losing his job for the past eight years. He said his contract is only until December 2018.
There is no word yet from the management if contractual workers like him will be absorbed in PGH or will be laid off after 2018, he said.
‘Contractual employees have the same workloads like regular employees’
In a statement, the CSC stressed that “COS and JO workers should not be made to perform functions which are part of the job description of the agency’s regular employees.”
But Saludano has been performing tasks that are similar to that of regular government employees. As administrative assistant, Saludano is in-charge of preparing necessary paper work needed for the hospital’s procurement. He prepares purchase requests and budget for procurement or what they call as “budget utilization request” and procurement order.
He also prepares communications for directors and also vouchers. He is also involved in the preparation of Individual Performance and Commitment Reports (IPCR) which are conducted every six months. The IPCR is a form which they use to rate the performance of the employees.
��Malawak ang coverage ng trabaho ko, (The scope of my work is broad.)” he told Bulatlat in an interview.
In the administration department, there are eight employees, six of them are contractual workers. He said a medical technician in their department has been a contractual for 10 years and also performs duties of regular employees.
According to the All U.P Workers Union-PGH (AUPWU-Manila), there are 386 contractual workers in PGH and 292 JO employees. There are a total of 3,888 employees in the hospital but health workers still complain of overwork because vacant plantilla positions or positions for regular employees are not being replaced. Government agencies, like the PGH, employ contractual or JO workers instead. Contractuals have less or no benefits.
But in PGH, the union fought for the benefits of contractual workers, similar to that of their regular counterparts. As of now, Saludano also enjoys benefits like hazard pay, subsistence and clothing allowance and leave benefits. The only difference is that their contracts are renewed every six months. On the other hand, JO workers are not entitled to these benefits.
UP memorandum to freeze hiring
UP President Danilo Concepcion has released memorandum on Sept. 22, 2017 ordering a moratorium in hiring “non-UP and UP contractuals.” This was met by protests of the AUPWU-Manila. They have held series of dialogues with the UP Manila administration to extend the contracts of the contractuals and JOs or they be exempted from the implementation of the joint circular in 2019. The PGH is under UP administration.
The non-UP contractuals in PGH are employees whose salaries and benefits came from the hospital’s revolving funds, trust funds and savings. Saludano is one of the non-UP contractuals. UP contractuals’ salaries were from the approved General Appropriations Act (GAA).
In a letter addressed to Ann K. Hofer of the UP Board of Regents, which was provided to Bulatlat, AUPWU-Manila and All U.P. Academic Employees Union-Manila (AUPAEU-Manila) said UP Manila officials have acknowledged the importance of contractual workers in the institution especially in the hospital.
In separate dialogues held on March 9, 20 and April 23 with Dr. Arlene Samaniego, Vice Chancellor for Administration of UP Manila and Prof. Nestor Yunque, UP Vice President for Administration, both recognized the possible effects in the delivery of services once contractual employees with crucial functions will be laid off next year.
However, the UP administration still plans to replace the contractual employees with agency-hired personnel. Only few of the contractual employees will have a chance to be given regular positions or regular plantilla item. The union criticized the plan as a step backward and a move that does not end contractualization.
“The sensitive and important functions of the university and the hospital will be at risk, from the students and patients’ records to providing services. These tasks that are performed by contractual and JO workers who have been working with us for a long time, have enough experience and skills, and recognize the essence of confidentiality,” the letter read.
The union however said that the UP-PGH management has been working for the regularization of the contractual workers by requesting additional plantilla items in the DBM. However the request took time to be acted upon.
‘Kapit lang, tiwala lang’
Saludano chose to be positive amid the uncertainty of their fate by the end of the year. Asked if he has any plans, such as looking for another job in advance in case their contracts will not be renewed next year, he said he doesn’t
His positivity stems from his trust with the union to steadfastly fight for the right of contractual workers to be regularized.
“I just hold on. Pray and trust the Lord that the joint circular will not be implemented,” he said. He also said that his supervisor will do all the justification to have his contract renewed next year.
“I really hope that we will be exempted from the implementation of the circular,” he said in Filipino.
Saludano’s family is still small; he has only one child who is three years old. His wife is a real estate agent who also does not have a regular income. He receives P12,000 ($228) per month which is augmented by other benefits that also helps in their monthly expenses. That is why it will be a tragedy if ever he loses his job.
He called on the government to scrap the joint circular and to put an end to contractualization. “Even now that we are contractuals we suffer hardships because our salaries are meager. What more if we lose our jobs.”