Thursday, 16 July 2020

GOVT, NURSES MEETING ENDS IN DEADLOCK


A CRUNCH meeting between Government and striking nurses over salaries ended in deadlock with health workers’ representatives maintaining their stance of demanding salaries pegged in United States (US) dollars before resuming work.

Nurses embarked on a nationwide strike last month, crippling public institutions in the wake of Covid-19 which has killed 18 people so far.

The nurses’ strike enters day 26 today. Acting Health and Child Care Minister Professor Amon Murwira told Parliamentarians on Wednesday that Government engaged nurses on Monday. 

“We have chosen a path of making sure that we have dialogue with the nurses. To this end, we have been having conversations and the last conversation that we had was a very productive conversation which was on Monday starting from half past eight in the morning ending at half past one, continuously talking and engaging,” said Prof Murwira.

He said the engagement will bring normalcy for the effectiveness of the health system as well as containing the spiking covid-19 cases.

Prof Murwira said the continued engagements with nurses was going to yield a positive result as soon as possible.

“As soon as possible might mean today in the afternoon or tomorrow in the morning but conversations are taking place. There are people that have to sit together and map the way forward based on the availability of resources. So, the answer is very simple which is as soon as possible and it could be now.”
  
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Mr Enock Dongo said his members had rejected Government’s offer of local currency salaries.

“We did meet with Government representatives on Monday and they clearly told us that despite our request, there was no way they would pay us in US$. They also asked us to suggest a salary offer in the local currency which our members rejected,” said Mr Dongo.

He said the association has since written a letter to Government with feedback and was hoping to get a response but nurses will not resume their duties before they are paid in US dollars.

“We met with the acting Minister, his deputy, Health Services Board and other executives to discuss the ongoing strike. The ministry asked us to provide a comparative renumeration trend of other nurses which would be used to determine how much we could be offered in the local currency,” said Mr Dongo.

According to him, nurses in South Africa earn about R20 000 monthly and this increases with experience one has.

“Converted to USD, this means a nurse in South Africa earns about $1 200 and when we compare to our salary using the RBZ rate, ours are only getting $60. If we quantify our basic needs in Zimbabwean dollars, it amounts to about $30 000 excluding school fees,” he said. 

Mr Dongo said nurses were still waiting for the US$75 which Government had promised to pay civil servants as an allowance.

He said the association was worried about the increasing number of nurses who are testing Covid-19 positive.

“We did try to engage the Ministry on that issue and they said there were efforts to get more personal protective equipment for nurses. Our nurses were forced to work without PPEs as officials said the only available stock was for nurses dealing with confirmed cases. At the moment, student nurses are reporting for duty without PPEs and that is a human right violation,” said Mr Dongo.

According to him, all health care workers should be tested for Covid-19 and given PPEs. Chronicle

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