Workers in the country’s public health and education sectors are overburdened by a host of challenges ranging from poor remuneration to deplorable working conditions, a local think tank, the Labour and Economic Development Research Institute Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ) has established.
LEDRIZ researcher Nyasha Muchichwa told stakeholders at an Action Aid Zimbabwe’s virtual workshop on ‘Decent Work for Education and Health Sectors’ held recently that as a result of this burden, they in turn failed to deliver and provide adequate services.
The research found that public health and education sectors are under staffed due to a recruitment freeze by the government since 2017.
“For Junior doctors there are limited choices as opportunities exist in the military,” said Muchichwa.
“(As a result) this overburdens teachers, nurses and doctors leading to demoralized workers and failure to deliver and provide adequate services.”
The research highlighted that Zimbabwe’s public service is devoid of key elements stipulated by the International Labor Organization (ILO) relevant to decent work such as labor market security, employment security, job security, work security, skill reproduction security and income security.
In Zimbabwe the teacher to pupil and nurse to patient ratios in schools and hospitals, respectively, are not consistent with international best practice as they tend to overwhelm professionals.
Lately, teachers, nurses and doctors in the public sector have been at loggerheads with government over wage increases after their erosion by inflation.
Official figures show that the food poverty line stands at ZWL$ 21 895 and the poverty datum line has also risen to ZWL$ 30 630 as at July 2021 which are all above average wages earned by civil servants.
“Salaries levels when compared with the minimum monthly requirements see workers being classified as the working poor,” said Muchichwa.
“There are multiple decent work deficits that exist in the education and health sector that need addressing; this has led to an increase in the incidences of demoralized workers and a fall in the provision of services.”
The research also found that there has been a fall in the quality of service rendered in the two sectors due to an upsurge of extra-classes and private surgeries as these professional try to eke a living.