Sunday, 17 August 2014

Salary hikes for 5,000 lower-wage healthcare support staff

Increase follows move by NTUC to train all support staff in the sector
By Amelia Tan, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2014

FOR the past decade or so, Madam V. Inthira's monthly pay as a service executive at the National University Hospital (NUH) had stayed at around $2,000.

But in the past two years, the 47-year-old's salary has jumped to more than $2,500 a month after she was trained as a supervisor under a labour movement programme aimed at raising the pay of low-wage health-care workers.

In fact, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) progressive wage model for the public health-care sector - which was launched two years ago - has been so successful that by the end of this year, all 5,000 low-wage health-care support workers in the sector would have seen a 15 per cent pay rise.

This surpasses its target of raising salaries of about 2,000 low-wage staff in public hospitals, polyclinics and national health centres. These are people who work as health attendants and assistants in hospital wards or as patient service associates doing customer service. They typically earn less than $1,700 a month.

The programme hit the 2,500 mark last year, and this year, the union has covered all the workers in the industry, said NTUC assistant secretary-general Patrick Tay.

With the 15 per cent pay hike, a junior patient service associate will earn between $1,265 and $1,725 now, up from $1,100 to $1,500 two years ago.

The pay hike comes after the workers were put through training to do their jobs better.

Mr Tay said yesterday at a National Day observance ceremony at NUH that he is happy the labour movement has achieved its target.

NTUC will now look to expand the programme to other health-care institutions such as nursing homes, he added.

"We are now looking at raising wages at places such as nursing homes and community hospitals, which are increasingly important as Singapore ages," said Mr Tay.

He added that in the past two years, the labour movement has helped about 3,000 mid-career, back-to-work mothers and young professionals find jobs in public health-care institutions.

Workers who have received salary raises said they are more motivated. Madam Inthira said: "I manage a team of eight and have taken on more responsibilities like training. I feel that I have a brighter future."

Her colleague June Chua, 27, who is a senior service team leader, agreed. She plans to apply for a scholarship from the hospital to study for a degree in business management.

"My goal is to become a manager in the future and inspire other patient service associates," she said.

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