THE Health Services Board (HSB) has reportedly recommended a downward review of health personnel’s on-call, standby and night duty allowances, setting the stage for another bruising labour dispute.
By Everson Mushava/
This came amid reports that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government yesterday shocked some nurses, who woke up to bulging bank accounts of amounts ranging between $1 000 and $5 000 in outstanding salaries and allowances.
Health workers, among them laboratory scientists, were last night locked in crisis meetings after the HSB reportedly indicated on-call allowances would be slashed from around $720 to about $360 a month, less than two months after they were hiked.
“Tension has risen in the health workers after the government unexpectedly slashed the allowance by more than 100% this month,” part of a circular seen by NewsDay read last night.
HSB board chairperson Lovemore Mbengeranwa, however, distanced himself from the proposed cuts on health workers’ allowances and has since written to the Finance and Economic Development ministry seeking clarity on the issue.
Some nurses confirmed they had received a windfall, but lamented what they termed the unfair distribution of monies, which they said bordered on divide-and-rule by government.
Most of the nurses who got hefty amounts were in rural areas and lowly ranked.
“Primary care nurses (PCN) based in rural areas got sums between $2 000 and $5 000, depending on the number of years in service,” one nurse said.
“I am told some got beyond $5 000. It is unfair because most of those nurses are certificate holders. We are told the money was backdated to 2005. State registered nurses got far less than the PCNs.”
Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (ZINA) president Simangaliso Mafa said he was out of the country and was yet to confirm the development.
“I can’t confirm nor deny because I am away attending a meeting and I am yet to find out what each category got,” he said.
Nurses last month staged a nationwide strike to push government to honour its pledge to pay them their outstanding allowances and salaries.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga immediately fired all the striking nurses who defied his order to return to work, before making an about-turn and reinstated them.
Government early this year pledged to address the grading anomalies in the health sector after it emerged that seasoned nurses were earning far less than their subordinates.