By Vanessa Gonye and Obey Manayiti | NewsDay |
NURSES at public health institutions have announced that they are cutting their working hours to two days per week, pending action on their grievances by their employer, failure of which they will down tools.
This came after the expiry of the 14-day ultimatum jointly communicated by various associations in the health sector a fortnight ago.
In a note to all members of associations in public health establishments, the Health Apex Council gave a seven-day waiting period for action, failure which they would embark on a full-scale industrial action.
“It was noted in the aforementioned meeting that whilst there had been some attempts to address minor grievances, the most important grievances relating to remuneration of health workers vis-a-vis the current economic climate have not been addressed.
“In light of the above, the meeting resolved to partially withdraw services for one week, concurrently reiterate the need for the HSB (Health Services Board)) to resolve all grievances,” the letter said.
The nurses said all health workers will attend work for only two days between June 17 and 23.
“Should the remaining grievances remain unresolved by close of day, June 23; all health workers will completely withdraw their labour from June 24.”
However, despite the notice, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) secretary -general Mthabisi Bhebhe said his association was waiting for a response from their employer.
“We are having solidarity meetings at our respective work stations to map the way forward; the position by the Apex Council was that all associations should down tools, but we are waiting for a response to our calls before we decide on a course of action,” he said.
A fortnight ago, the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association said a meeting held on June 6 resolved that workers in the health sector would go on strike within two weeks to force the government to review their salaries.
The two-week ultimatum has since lapsed and the nurses have become the first body of health workers to embark on the agreed industrial action.
In a related matter, the much-hyped urgent caucus meeting by the Apex Council yesterday to discuss workers’ plight in the face of inflation and map a way forward failed to produce any substantive resolutions, forcing leaders to reconvene on Friday.
The meeting resulted in an impasse with others pushing for an immediate industrial action claiming that the government has failed to consider their plight.
Reports of disunity among the Apex Council leaders were abound, leading to yesterday’s meeting being adjourned to pave way for further research on a possible way forward.
According to insiders, some were of the view that they should seek audience with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and personally plead with him.
“Apex Council met today, but are still to follow up on a number of issues which will be concluded on Friday,” Thomas Muzondo, who was chairing the meeting said.
“We still want to follow up on a few things and we will reconvene again on Friday. Today was the workers’ side only and there are yet to be a number of researches that we need to do in the next few days and come up with an agreed position.”
In its previous position paper to government, Apex Council leadership complained that their members are fast losing hope and calling them toothless for failing to ensure government acts on their demands.
Yesterday’s inconclusive meeting might have left many disappointed, but the leaders insisted they need to be thorough before agreeing on the way forward.
However, some teachers said they are from today embarking on a job action.