Nurses issue strike threat

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THE government is facing a tall order to placate its restive employees after nurses became the latest group to threaten a strike due to the worsening economic environment in the country, the Daily News reports. This comes as teachers have also threatened to completely stop going to work until their employer reviewed their measly salaries.

Nurses have been reporting for duty three times per week under a flexi hours arrangement they made with the government last year. Yesterday, the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) secretary-general Douglas Chikobvu warned of an imminent job action. He said their salaries had been severely weakened by galloping inflation and ever increasing cost of basic goods and transport. “We are not happy because we can’t afford decent transport, food, medical aid and money to pay school fees for our children and darlings. “We have subsidised the government enough and the days of charity are over.

A strike is imminent and this is a signal that we are totally incapacitated. “Morale is very low as most nurses are failing to cope with the economic crisis masterminded by the employer,” Chikobvu said. He said they would be demanding salaries pegged against the interbank market rate to cushion themselves from the skyrocketing costs of living. On his part, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Enock Dongo said members were likely to meet at the weekend to decide “the way forward on their incapacitation”. Last year, public hospitals were paralysed by several strikes by health professionals who included both junior and senior doctors.

The crisis prevailing at the State hospitals during the strike then, forced senior doctors to lift the lid on their dire state. They told Parliament that most emergency rooms and life-saving equipment were now totally
dysfunctional, leading to many avoidable deaths.

In a damning petition, the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) revealed how intensive care units (ICUs) — where they perform life-saving emergencies — had ceased to operate completely, save for a few that were nevertheless also in a poor state. “Equipment is broken down and there seems to be no efforts to restore it.

“Generally, hospitals have drastically reduced the number of critical beds that can be used, causing avoidable loss of life and exposing doctors to unwarranted blame by patients and relatives. “For example, Parirenyatwa has reduced its adult intensive care unit beds from nine to three, Harare Hospital from 10 to two and Mpilo is operating on two … beds.

“United Bulawayo Hospitals has one ICU being operated on a borrowed machine,” the SHDA said. “This has drastically reduced the number of major operations that can be done and made operating on elective cases nearly impossible. “The same applies to all central hospitals and the cause is lack of consumables, breakdown of equipment, as well as loss of experienced staff who got incapacitated and left the institutions,” it added in the petition.

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