Nurses now on go-slow, doctors threaten to join

HARARE- Nurses at Zimbabwe’s major state hospitals have started a go-slow, with doctors threatening to join them if their bonuses, which were due on the 2nd of January 2015, are not paid by Friday this week.

People visiting patients at Parirenyatwa Hospital confirmed that service delivery is markedly slower, with nurses on duty taking longer to attend to patients, leading to queues getting longer.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) yesterday gave the government an ultimatum to pay outstanding bonuses by Friday the 9th of this month before nurses withdraw their services by Monday next week if their grievances are not addressed.

The crisis could be crippling as doctors say they are in ‘full solidarity with the proposed industrial action by nurses.’

“ZHDA [Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association] wishes to advice the Health Service Board, our employer that it will be very difficult for doctors to discharge their duties in the absence of nurses in our hospitals. A swift response to avert this looming nationwide strike is required first by providing bonuses, revising the pay and allowances structure for health workers this January as per the last meeting of the Bipartite Negotiating Forum and lastly engaging all health workers into meaningful negotiations for revising health workers salaries,” said ZHDA President, Dr Fortune Nyamande in a statement.

The government had promised to pay nurses their bonuses in the beginning of January.

A memorandum (dated 12 December 2014) from the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mr Willard Manungo, addressed to the Civil Service Commission Chairman, Mr Mariyawanda Nzuwa with treasury committing to pay nurses bonuses on the 2nd of January.

Health Services Board (HSB) Public Relations Officer, Mr Nyasha Maravanyika confirmed that after receiving the memo, they sent circulars to health institutions notifying workers they were to get their bonuses on the 2nd of this month.

In October and November last year, junior doctors went on strike for weeks before they called off the industrial action.

The doctors who participated in the strike had their salaries slashed as punishment.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) says the breakdown of dialogue in the civil service has destroyed all efforts to negotiate salaries and packages for teachers.

The teachers say the absence of the National Joint Negotiating Forum where government and workers used to meet has made it difficult for workers to hold wage and benefits bargaining meetings.

Apex Council Chairperson, Mr Richard Gundani said it is government which has not acted in good faith as it is yet to appoint a team leader to represent its interests.

Contacted for comment, the Acting Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Walter Mzembi called on the teachers to exercise restraint and wait for the recently appointed substantive minister, Cde Prisca Mupfumira to address the issues which government is well aware of.

Teachers also called on government to focus on the national curriculum review exercise by ensuring the capacitating of teachers as the drivers of the programme is well funded.

Almost 16 years since the completion of the Nziramasanga Report, implementation of the recommendations set to revive the curriculum are yet to take off the ground.

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