Calls have been made to the government to urgently resolve the nurses’ grievances and bring to an end the night duty strike which has been going on since Tuesday this week.
By Phyllis Mbanje
The chairperson of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), Rutendo Bonde, said this was a sad development and that the employer needed to address the nurses concerns urgently.
“In as much as the health professionals have an overwhelming duty of care, their welfare needs attention,” Bonde said.
Bonde said the impact on the public would be serious since the public health sector is driven by nurses.
The director of the Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), Itai Rusike, also said poor salaries and working conditions in the public health sector discouraged workers.
“Conditions of service have deteriorated sharply and this is made worse by a poor grievance procedure,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (ZINA) in a statement on Wednesday said they would not be intimidated by the employer
and would continue with the strike which is likely to disrupt services until their issues are sorted.
ZINA president Regina Smith said nurses at all State facilities would stop going on-call and night duty until their grievances have been met.
“We will not be intimidated by the attitude of the employer who wants to act like big brother instead of solving the problem amicably,” she said.
Among their grievances is the highly contentious issue of payment of night duty and grading anomalies.
“Night duty allowances have been paid to a few nurses at a rate of $3 per set (seven days) since 2010. Nurses do standby at clinics, but the employer does not appreciate that,” Smith said.
She claimed that the government was instead paying people who work in offices around $400 disregarding nurses who carry out the actual duty.
“This is scandalous and ridiculous and so we will, as of now, stop going for on-call and night duties,” she said.
Secretary for Health Gerald Gwinji would not shed light on the way forward, but said he was aware of the grievances.
“They also feel as nurses allowances were not adequately addressed when adjustments were made earlier in the year when anomalies in the doctors’ call allowances were made,” he said.
ZINA said they were not asking Treasury for additional funds, but were requesting for the fair and equitable distribution of the $1,5 million availed to the Health Services Board.