Fired Nurses: Hell for the Poor, Jubilation for the Jobless

Harare - The haste move by government to fire nearly 20 000 striking nurses for protesting over unpaid allowances and a flawed grading system, will adversely affect the majority of patients using the ailing health system - but has come as a blessing to unemployed health staff. 

After a stalemate, the state finally dismissed the nurses, accusing them of being politically manipulated to embark on the industrial action to cripple the health delivery system, with reports of more deaths recorded as doctors downed tools last month.   

“Against a background of a series of meetings involving Government, the Health Services Board and the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA), which were meant to resolve the industrial action by nursing staff in the public health sector.

“And the subsequent decision by Government yesterday to accede to the demands made by the striking nurses, government regrets to note that the industrial action in this essential service sector has persisted,” said Vice President Constantino Chiwenga.

The ZNA boasts of more than 16 000 members, with the least paid nurse grossing $284 monthly before allowances. 
Public Healthcare Industrial Action Affects the Poor 

“They have been making promises for a long time and the nurses resolved to only go back to work when their money is in their accounts,” Enoch Dongo, the ZNA secretary general said.

Chiwenga added that the state had released $17 million to avert the industrial action.  

“What makes the whole action (by nurses) both deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that as agreed yesterday, Government released and transferred a sum of $17 114 446 into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for on-payment to the striking nurses.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa endorsed the dismissal.

“Government has done everything to comply with the demands of the striking nurses and the striking nurses have done everything to defy the directive by Government. This leaves us with no option, but to dismiss them.”

The Health Services Board (HSB) has been instructed to speedily employ jobless and recall retired nurses. Zimbabwe directs at least 90 percent of its annual budget on salaries. 

However, the public is not amused, calling the health minister to immediately resign. 

“There is no way we as a nation can stand back and accept that 20 000 nurses have been dismissed simply for demanding that government improves working conditions at government hospitals.

“The nurses have a genuine case. They can't work in hospitals that do not have equipment they need to do their job. They can't work when they are being robbed of salaries they deserve.

“The national message to Vice President Chiwenga and David Parirenyatwa is that they must stop playing with people's lives and solve the nurses' problems,” said Bekezela Fuzwayo. - Online Sources 

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