Anakbayan New York Stands in Solidarity with Nurses for Safe Staffing

11152695_10153234017539491_6177958912032066058_nAnakbayan New York speaking in solidarity with the nurses at New York Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Height, NYC


April 18, 2015
Reference: Joshel Melgarejo, Finance Officer, Anakbayan New York | 347.443.4481

Anakbayan New York Stands in Solidarity with Nurses for Safe Staffing

We, as Filipino Youth in Anakbayan New York, understand the plight of nurses in New York City because we are the sons and daughters of thousands of nurses. Some of us also make up young nurses and students aspiring to be nurses in the future.

We understand that our family and all of our loved ones who are in the nursing profession are here in the United States because they were forced to migrate due to the failing socio-economic conditions in the Philippines. 15,000 Filipino nurses leave the Philippines annually to search for jobs all over the world, especially the United States. These nurses were forced to leave their home country because of the infamous Labor Export Policy. The policy was an attempt to solve poverty in the Philippines, by sending Filipino workers overseas to look for jobs they would have never been able to acquire in their home country due to rampant unemployment. There are currently 400,000 nurses in the Philippines who are unemployed, many of whom must resort to working in call centers where their hard earned skills are not put to use.

Filipino Nurses for Export

Under the Labor Export Policy, there are over 350 nurses training schools whose primary goal is to export nurses overseas. Nurses in the Philippines are practically trained for the purpose of going abroad.  If they choose to stay in their home country, they would join the countless others who are unemployed. The Filipino youth are not educated to stay in their own country, all on account of neoliberal globalization.

The Labor Export Policy makes these nurses work for wages in a foreign country that they would have never received back in the Philippines, even if they were lucky enough to obtain a job.  While working abroad, these nurses send billions of dollars of remittances back home to their families. As history has proven, these remittances help boost the Philippine economy, but only to the benefit of the government, not the people. The country has become extremely dependent on remittances from migrants. The large number of nurses leaving the Philippines negatively impacts the country because the Philippines loses its educated workers who have the potential to improve the socioeconomic conditions. The direct result of this policy is a poor healthcare system in the Philippines.

Exploitation in the healthcare system

Hospitals claim abundant staffing, especially when celebrities are being hospitalized, but nurses who work directly with patients say that they are understaffed.  In hospitals across New York City, the ratio of nurses to patients is about 1:10.  While nurses at hospitals are balancing many patients at a time, many youth and students who graduate as registered nurses with nursing degrees are having a difficult time finding jobs in hospitals

In a capitalist system, an economic and political system based on the exploitation of labor for maximum profit, CEOs of hospitals are earning millions of dollars while nurses are being overworked.  Rather than hiring more nurses to work in hospitals and decrease the ratio of nurses to patients to provide quality care to patients, hospitals are forcing nurses to take on extra work while their wages stay the same.

Our loved ones enter the nursing field because they want to save lives and serve their communities. But they are unable to do this because of unsafe staffing. Nurses are severely overworked, having to care for about 10 patients at a time. This is a drain on their physical and mental health. This not only hurts nurses, but also puts the lives of their patients at risk. Their patients are not able to get the quality treatment they need to recover, which has led to the increase in the mortality rate of patients in understaffed facilities.

Being separated from their families to work in a foreign, unfamiliar country was the only choice these Filipino nurses had to be able to support their families. They should not have to suffer further because of these unfair conditions, and neither should their patients and their communities!

We call on the Filipino community, especially youth and students to link arms with the nurses in their just struggle for safer working conditions.