Nurses’ union threatens court action

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Dr Solwayo Ngwenya

Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
GOVERNMENT hospitals have started recruiting nurses to replace the striking health workers, who were fired on Tuesday, as the industrial action enters day five today.

Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga (Retired) announced the dismissal of the nurses after they refused to go back to work even though their employer had acceded to their demands and availed $17 million.

However, the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) has said it would take the matter to court, adding that the $17 million being referred to was what the nurses were owed by the Government.

The recruitment follows an order from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, ordering chief executive officers at Government hospitals and provincial medical directors to replace the striking nurses after they refused to go back to work.

The ministry advised the hospitals to recruit a maximum of 30 nurses at central hospitals, 20 at provincial hospitals, 15 at district hospitals, five at rural hospitals and one or two at rural health centres and clinics.

Those on leave have been recalled to work and have been given up to midday today to report for duty.

Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya yesterday said the institution had started recruiting, with 14 nurses having been hired.

“The hospital is still operating with no nurses although we’ve put in place contingency measures to stabilise the hospital and prevent deaths by employing more and taking others from the security services.

“Unemployed nurses have been trickling in following the call by the Health Services Board (HSB) for applications from qualified unemployed nurses.

We’ve since registered 14 nurses for employment and we’re already processing their papers before they start work,” said Dr Ngwenya.

He, however said the hospital remains open and functional due to contingency measures that have been taken to stabilise operations at the hospital.

Dr Ngwenya also appealed to the nurses to come back to work and care for the sick while their concerns are being attended to.

United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) chief executive officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Child Care has written to hospitals instructing them to submit information on health workers who did not join the industrial action on April 16 and those who heeded the minister’s call to resume duty on April 17. “This will facilitate payment of the agreed allowances.

Those who were on official leave, maternity, sick, annual leave and days off are considered to have been on duty and have since been recalled to report for duty.

“Should those on official leave not report for duty by midday on April 20, they will be deemed as being on strike unless they have genuine reason,” reads part of the notice.

Nurses meanwhile, have organised an open air clinic, where they will provide medical services for free in Harare, as part of their protest against the Government.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa conveyed his position on Wednesday through the Presidential spokesman and Secretary for Information, Media and Broadcasting Services, Mr George Charamba, saying the $17 million had been reserved for the faithful nurses. —@pamelashumba1

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  • zibulo

    those tasked to “recruit”new nurses are also state workers, who also face the same challenges faced by nurses. Their turn will also come when they will be replaced if they emabark on a strike when govt also plays them a fool !!!. Same applies to all state depts in the country, if they do not stand up for their colleagues then their so-called Unions are not worth any cent they contribute to it. When one dept fires state employees, other unions of state employees have to stand up for them and join in Solidarity with them, because if they do not, tomorrow its them !!! What kind of Unions represent these people ????????. They do have an Umbrella body making up all the state employees’ unions and it must show its teeth. An injury to one is an injury to all, inja one inja all !!

    • musa

      true zibulo, true

  • Willy

    The headline and what is being said in the story akuhambelani. This reporter is sick ekhanda. Where in the story did you talk about taking govt to court??

    • Wamserdz

      True

    • makhosi

      court action is there but briefly mentioned, deliberately

  • MSAKANDA

    It was unwise to fire all of them because, surely poor service is likely to be rendered by people who were not practicing for years. You usually become skillful through rigorous practice. The people who have been for years sited at home are likely to make mistakes so they need people who have been on the job to take them through. Consider people with clean records in terms of discipline to be reinstated, they will then go through the process of perfection with the new guyz. general nurses vs General retired

  • mafu

    They could be charged with absentism and leaving their posts unattended, insubordination, failure to obey lawful instructions to return to work and worse engaging in politics as is being said in some quarters

  • benjamin

    Nurses are very important civil servants and their plight must be taken seriously. They need competitive salaries. However, their union in this case erred and misled them. In any case, I would urge government to repeal it’s decision to fire them and persuade them to get back to their work stations while dialogue progresses in earnest. A union representative of a sector that is so critical to the well-being of every citizen in the country should approach matters with extreme meticulousness and caution. It’s a totally different scenario from a situation where for example “Bata Shoe Company workers decide to down tools.” The nurses know it, they know how critical their profession is and how they are very different from employees in other professions,,, they were trained in these principles and so I don’t believe the action taken on their behalf by their union was representative of the beliefs of the greater proportion of the nurses.

    • zibulo

      how do you know that it was the Nurses’ representatives who erred in the process ? What do you say about the fact that the 17 million usds is what is owed , and not what they are crying for as an increase? Do you mean that our Nurses are FOOLS ??? to just go on a strike without thinking, in these hard times in Zim, i think uyabheda

      • benjamin

        Think with a militant mind and you stop to reason. There is not a single word or phrase in my comment that suggests that I “think our Nurses are FOOLS.”

        I said, “Nurses are very important civil servants and their plight must be taken seriously. They need competitive salaries.”

        And look and you, you went on to insult me. Is that necessary???