Council nurses confront employer over risk allowances

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By Mary Taruvinga

NURSES at Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital Monday held a flash demonstration over failure by their employer to pay them risk allowances and also offer Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.

The nurses said they were yet to receive any allowances and protective material, almost two months after Harare City Council made the promise.

A group of nurses congregated at the facility to demonstrate but the job action was cut short after their boss, Clemence Duri showed up.

Duri also ordered reporters of this publication out of the premises saying they should get clearance to cover the demonstrations from Harare City Health director Prosper Chonzi.

“This is our home and we have protocols. We are not happy with your visit and kindly leave now.

“The official position is that nothing is happening here, ” said Duri before assigning two municipal officers to drive the crew out of the facility.

In a later interview with, Chonzi said he was yet to receive official communication regarding the protest.

However, individuals who were part of the abortive demonstration vowed not to perform any duties starting this Tuesday if their grievances were not addressed.

“Our lives are at risk and there is no motivation from our employer. We can’t continue like this and tomorrow (Tuesday) we will be demonstrating again,” said a nurse who preferred anonymity.

In an interview, president of Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union, Simbarashe James Tafirenyika accused their employer of lacking conscience.

“We were promised that nurses will get $100 risk allowance per day, but nothing has materialised.

“From the union, we never declared that we are downing tools but those who feel that they are fed up are free to stay at home if they feel they have to.

“One cannot risk his or her life working without PPEs when there is no risk allowance. However, the union did not say nurses should go on strike,” said Tafirenyika.

According to Tafirenyika, each of the nurses was now working two days per week.

He said the total risk allowance amounted to $800 per month but they were yet to receive the money.

Besides PPEs and risk allowances, the nurses also requested food hampers and to have access to subsidised mealie meal, among other basic commodities.

The authority has failed to respond to two consecutive letters written by the union.

“When the Covid-19 pandemic started, we wrote a letter to Chonzi and the Acting Human Capital director, Dr Marara telling them of our grievances.

“We wanted risk allowance similar to that gazetted by the government but there was never a response.

“We also wrote to the nurses manager, Matron Chitando complaining about incapacitation but there was no response. Nurses are now fee up and fear for their lives,” said Tafirenyika.

The union leader accused city authorities of locking up some protective equipment.

He added, “It was just today (Monday) when we were told that a meeting over allowances and PPE will be held this Tuesday. City of Harare never bought any PPE for its staff.

“What’s available is coming from the government and donors, it’s disappointing,” he said.

Meanwhile, government frontline health workers have started receiving their risk allowances amounting $1 500.

Many have received twice the amount after the allowances were backdated.