Government backtracks on striking nurses salaries
STRIKING nurses have received their July and August salaries despite the Health Services Board (HSB’s) no-work, no-pay principle.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo confirmed to the Daily News yesterday that they were paid double their normal salaries this month to compensate for last month.
“The majority of nurses who did not receive salaries in July got them this month. It is a welcome development, but we still feel it was wrong in the first place to remove striking nurses from the payroll.
“We want our concerns to be addressed and there is no need to be vindictive. We hope someone somewhere will see sense and do what is right because our concerns are legitimate,” Dongo said.
Nurses went on strike in June demanding US dollar salaries and adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Dongo, however, reiterated that the nurses would not return to work until the government meets their demands.
“We remain greatly disturbed by the non-functioning health sector and people potentially needlessly dying in their homes. The government has a duty to protect human life and guarantee health services to citizens,” he added.
A fortnight ago, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said negotiations for an annual cost of living adjustment between the government and its employees under the National Joint Negotiating Council had started.
“We have started negotiations for annual normal cost of living adjustments, that process will take us to around September or October and there will be further adjustments in that regard.
“There will be special programmes that recognise the work they do and the risk that they take.
“There will be a special health sector allowance and then there is a special Covid-19 risk allowance, then there is a US$75 wage balance. So, there is a layer of additional benefits and these benefits are tax free,” Ncube said.
The return of striking nurses to the government payroll comes in the wake of a call by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is now in charge of the Health and Child Care portfolio, for them to stop their industrial action and give the government time to address their grievances.
Addressing farmers at the launch of the Climate-Proofed Presidential Inputs Programme at Nyabvuti Farm in Guruve on Friday, Chiwenga pleaded for patience.
“We are working hard to improve our health delivery system at ward, village, district, province up to referral institutions. We are strengthening our systems so that people can access medication easily.
“Our health workers are on strike. We are encouraging them to return to work and save lives. While we are aware of their grievances, they should also consider saving lives.
“We are not blind to your issues. We are working hard to assist, but you should also consider the lives of patients.
“While we are addressing your grievances, we cannot expect a solution overnight.
“These challenges have been accumulating over a long period and will also take a little bit of time to be addressed,” he said.