NURSES at public hospitals yesterday joined striking doctors to pile pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s cash-strapped government to honour its undertaking to pay them 2016 bonuses and improve their working conditions.
BY Everson Mushava
Doctors downed tools a fortnight ago over similar demands.
The nurses’ strike came after the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) wrote to the government last week demanding specific dates for their 2016 bonus payments, among other grievances.
Zina secretary-general, Enoch Dongo, yesterday told NewsDay that nurses at Harare Central Hospital were the first to heed the strike call.
“Yes, we have downed tools because the government was not showing commitment to pay us our bonuses,” he said.
“Our job is a bit different from any other job, we cannot handle patients well when our morale is low. So we decided that the nurses, who are not psychologically prepared to do their jobs should stay at home to avoid making mistakes that could put patients’ lives in danger.”
Dongo said he was informed that nurses at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals held a meeting yesterday and resolved to join the strike starting today.
He said nurses have had several concerns, but the issue of bonuses broke the camel’s back. Some of the concerns, Dongo said, included poor staff grading, short staffing and poor working conditions.
“Nurses have several challenges, but the issue of bonuses has triggered this action. The ministry has postponed meetings to deliberate on the issue and instead, claim they are conducting consultations to get feedback on those who want to be paid by residential stands, a process we conducted a long time back and concluded that we want cash payment.”
NewsDay visited Harare Central Hospital and observed that most patients were being turned away by a skeletal staff manning the hospital and supported by student nurses.
The rest of the civil service has threatened to go on strike on Monday over the outstanding bonus issue.