Nurses embarked on an industrial action this Monday morning over low remuneration following last Friday’ snubbing of a 100 percent wage hike compounding headwinds for the country’s ailing health sector.
Nurses and other health professionals at the country’s biggest health institution, Parirenyatwa Hospital picketed this morning at the Health Services Board (HSB) offices demanding a better offer under the watchful eye of the Zimbabwe Republic Police riot officers.
It is reported that the demonstrations also spread to Sally Mugabe Hospital in Harare.
It is understood that government negotiators are currently in renewed talks with health workers representatives to quell the situation.
The Health Apex Council representing nurses bemoaned failure by government to at least improve COVID-19 risk allowances in the wake of rising inflation and depreciation of the local currency.
“The government failed to meaningfully and timeously review of Covid 19 risk allowances. Currently, they are at ZWL3000, ZWL 4500, and ZWL7500, and as such are now very negligible considering the exposure of the health workers during this pandemic. Health workers never stopped reporting for duty even when most public servants were at home.”
Yesterday, the HSB made a last ditch attempt to stop nurses from striking when its chairperson Paulinus Sikosana issued a statement pleading for patience from the health workers.
“Please be advised that the Board and indeed government is committed to the resumption of negotiations, and you will be notified as soon as the process, which is now at an advanced stage, is complete,” reads the statement.
The country’s health sector is already faced with shortages of drugs and medical equipment on top of dilapidated infrastructure and the industrial action by nurses comes as a fresh blow to government which is also trying to put out fires with teachers who are demand increased wages.
“It is common knowledge that the economic conditions have deteriorated significantly in the last 6 months. This is clearly indicated by the rapid and precipitous fall in the interbank rate and the steep increase in inflation, now well over 130%. The loss of value of the local currency is apparent and evidenced by the government’s decision to pay farmers in USD. We, therefore, repeat our call for salaries USD,” said Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo.