Zimbabwe Nurses Start Strike Over Low Pay

Zimbabwe Nurses Standing Near A Tree Start Strike Over Low Pay

Zimbabwe Nurses at Zimbabwe’s state-run hospitals started a strike for higher pay and improved working conditions, a union official said.

“We don’t know when the strike will end, but the main problem we are having is that there is no dialog with the employer, let alone the salaries are pathetic,” Enock Dongo, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, said by phone on Monday.

Nurses at Zimbabwe’s state-run hospitals started a strike for higher pay and improved working conditions, a union official said.
“We don’t know when the strike will end, but the main problem we are having is that there is no dialog with the employer, let alone the salaries are pathetic,” Enock Dongo, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, said by phone on Monday.

The union is demanding pay of $540 a month compared with current salaries ranging from 20,000 Zimbabwean dollars ($60) to Z$25,000, he said. Inflation in the southern African nation surged to 132% in May.

Other complaints included a lack of medication to treat patients at the country’s hospitals.

Paulinus Sikosana, chairperson of the Health Services Board, said he was in a meeting and couldn’t immediately comment.

Nurses at Harare Central hospital have called on the public to join their protests against government’s failure to address their demands, as the crisis at public hospitals deepens.

The calls come at a time health workers, mainly doctors and nurses, have withdrawn their services over poor remuneration across the country.

It has emerged that the second largest referral centre does not even have simple painkillers like paracetamol amid the trending crisis.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital Monday, joined the nationwide strike citing incapacitation but a nurse who talked on condition of anonymity said the situation on the ground was even worse.

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“I feel pity for patients and their relatives here,” said the nurse after being asked how they felt about abandoning their workstations.

“The problem is that everyone thinks it is only the duty of health workers to protest when they are disgruntled, but even the patients have rights too.

“Everyone thinks we are heartless after being offered a 100% salary increment which however makes no difference. We love our job, our mission is to save lives but how do we deliver when we do not even have paracetamol?

“Even if we were to stay, what would we use to treat the patients? We do not have any medicines here and patients are told to buy their own medication.

“Besides demanding salary increments, we also want a good working environment, where we are provided with everything we want for treating sick people.

“We want a situation whereby patients stop buying medication for themselves because this is a state institution,” said the nurse.

At Parirenyatwa, nurses vacated their posts and left patients lying on floors and outside hospital premises as they marched to the Health Services Board (HSB) alongside fellow disgruntled junior doctors.

The same situation prevailed at Harare hospital where a majority of nurses abandoned patients around midday.

After being addressed by their superiors, they left for home.

The nurse said it was time for the public to petition the hospital authorities.

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“If they do not do so, as you have seen, everyone (nurses) has left, meaning there will be no one to attend to them. They should join the protests.”

The nurse said they will still not return to work if tools of their trade are made available and their wage demands not met.

Their ZW$18 000 monthly earnings have been eroded by inflation and a rising exchange rate that has left them with barely US$100 equivalents on pay day.

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