Nurses to meet Health ministry over salaries

Sindiso Mhlophe

STRIKING nurses are set to meet with acting Health ministry permanent secretary Gibson Mhlanga on Tuesday in efforts to resolve the ongoing impasse between the two conflicting parties, the Daily News reports.

This comes as the nurses are demanding that their salaries be paid in United States (US) dollars in full, while the government, on the other hand, has indicated that it has no capacity to pay the salaries in foreign currency exclusively.
“Our demands are very clear and we will not waver. Our first demand is that we want our salaries to be in US dollars and this is the main agenda. We have noted with concern that our salaries have been eroded extensively in this hyperinflationary environment.
“This has severely exposed nurses to abject poverty. Essential services are demanding payments in US dollars due to the re-dollarisation effects. Therefore, any payments in RTGS will translate to measly wages.
“This can only be curtailed when our government pays our nursing constituency in US dollars,” Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) secretary-general Douglas Chikobvu said.
The country’s hyperinflationary environment has led to the Zimbabwe dollar losing value on the black market, resulting in prices of basic commodities soaring beyond the reach of many long-suffering Zimbabweans.
Chikobvu further indicated that nurses were also demanding that the government should pay their coronavirus (Covid-19) allowance based on risk and exposure to the virus.
“We demand graded risk allowances not a flat allowance across health workers. We want an evidence-based payment policy framework.
“The nurses are extensively exposed hence they can’t be paid equivalent with those not even exposed at work,” he said.
Last month, nurses staged demonstrations across the country, protesting a salary cut to which the government reacted by offering them, together with other civil servants, a 50 percent increase and US$75 Covid-19 allowance valid for the next three months.
Nurses unions rejected the offer and called on their members to continue withdrawing their services, while appealing to those who have been reporting for work to join the strike saying that the government had not demonstrated commitment to address their incapacitation.
Meanwhile, Mhlanga indicated that the ministry was meeting nurses with an open mind and determined to resolve the issue at hand.

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