Nurses in the Philippines are angry. They are being forced to work for free, or for a stipend on which they cannot live, while the hospitals where they are working call them “volunteers.” Some hospitals are even charging nurses for their “volunteer” work experience. Thousands of graduate nurses are paying hospitals and working for months without salaries under the guise of “training,” so the nurses can gain work experience and have an improved chance of being employed as a regular staff eventually. As a result of this exploitation, nurses have filed cases against four hospitals through the Philippines Department of Labor and Employment – National Labor Relations Commission in February and March. Nurses have also sought the help of a Philippines political party, the Ang Nars Party, which has been using its Facebook page to highlight their campaign against what they are calling “false volunteerism”. (Thanks, oh-so-awesome DJ Cronin, for the heads up about this situation!)
You can read more about this situation at the Nursing News, March 2, 2017, but be warned: this is a click-bait site, packed with advertising banners and in-text advertising links.
I am, of course, outraged about this situation in the Philippines. It’s the same outrage that prompted me to call on the United Nations to defend its involvement of full-time, unpaid interns. It’s not only horrible that these nurses are being exploited; these kinds of actions create campaigns opposed to some or all volunteering (unpaid work). No doubt the hospitals in the Philippines have happily talked about the value of volunteering only in terms of money saved in not paying staff, just as ILO, the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, UNV, and others have encouraged them to do. The result of this exploitation will be a further backlash against all volunteering in hospitals in the Philippines – and beyond. The fight against unpaid internships hurts volunteering. And all of this is because so many organizations see volunteers only as a way to not pay staff, to save money.
If you do not have a written statement that explains explicitly why your organization reserves certain tasks / assignments / roles for volunteers, including unpaid interns, and that statement has NOTHING to do with not having enough money to pay staff, then you have no business involving volunteers, or unpaid interns, or whatever it is you want to call people you aren’t paying for work.
Good luck to the nurses in the Philippines. And good luck to hospitals in justifying future engagement of volunteers after making so many enemies to the term.
- Deriding the monetary value of volunteer hours: my mission in life?
- The Value of volunteers – a web page to help you understand how to appropriately talk about the value of volunteers at your organization.
- Initiatives opposed to some or all volunteering (unpaid work), & online & print articles about or addressing controversies regarding volunteers replacing paid staff – a page I developed when someone told me there was no opposition to volunteer engagement because of job loss and “money saved” (obviously, that person was wrong)
- Make volunteering transformative, not about # of hours – a blog from earlier this year that illustrates how to talk about the value of volunteers in a much more powerful way (and one that keeps getting retweeted! Thank you!)
- Valuing volunteer engagement: an imaginary case study – an attempt to show, in the simplest way possible, why talking about volunteer value primarily in terms of monetary value insults volunteers
- CNCS continues its old-fashioned measurement of volunteer value, a blog from 2014 – and, no, CNCS nor the Points of Light Foundation responded.
- OPB & Congress Think Volunteers are Free – how the Independent Sector way of thinking influences the press (and a petition for you to sign to help fund resources for volunteer management on public lands)
- Contradicting myself? – a blog about HistoriCorps and volunteers in California state parks and how to talk about why these initiatives involve volunteers (and how money CAN be talked about – just very, very carefully)
- We need volunteer police officers – & an overhaul as well – a blog that I hope really brings home a real-life value of volunteer engagement that has NOTHING to do with money
- Volunteering empowers, activates, builds, communicates – just another way of saying it….
- Volunteers: still not free – a 2012 blog that I think sums up the issues well
- Fight against unpaid internships will hurt volunteering – a blog that summarizes what I have predicted for many years: unpaid interns are revolting precisely because of the reasons given for not paying volunteers promoted by so many national and international bodies
- Advice for unpaid interns to sue for back pay – helping unpaid interns know their rights
- Judging volunteers by their # of hours? No thanks.
- Should the NFL involve volunteers for the Super Bowl? – a must read if you think the best value of volunteers is monetary
- Do NOT say “Need to Cut Costs? Involve Volunteers!” – a 2012 blog that tries to explain this issue in very simple terms
- UN Volunteers, IFRC, ILO & others make HUGE misstep – a 2011 blog in response to these international agencies promoting the value of volunteers in terms of money saved by not paying employees to do the work
- Value of Volunteers – Still Beating the Drum – a 2011 blog on the subject
- pro vs. volunteer firefighters – a 2013 followup to an earlier blog
- Another anti-volunteer union – a blog from 2010
- Volunteers are suing
- I agree with this anti-crowdsource campaign
- Criticism Continues for UK Government Talk Re Volunteers – a blog from 2011 that shows the backlash with the United Kingdom decided to cut employees and encourage volunteers to replace them
- International Association of Fire Fighters is anti-volunteer – a blog from 2010 that illustrates the consequences of the Independent Sector and other organization’s promotion of a monetary value as the best reason to involve volunteers.
- Volunteer engagement is MUCH more than just HR management – one of my first blogs on this subject