‘Fired’ nurses defiant, tell VP Chiwenga off

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THE Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) has poured scorn at government’s decision purporting to dismiss thousands of nurses who have been demanding better working conditions.

In a statement late Wednesday, ZINA said Chiwenga had no authority to fire any of its members.

“We have taken note of the statement issued by Honourable Vice President Constantino Chiwenga on 17 April 2018. In the aforesaid press statement the VP purported to summarily terminate the services of our striking members.

“Our members are employed by the Health Services Board (HSB) in terms of written contracts of employment which contracts still subsist,” the union said.

According to ZINA, none of their members had by end of day Wednesday received any letters terminating their contracts of employment and the grievances that forced them into industrial action still stood.

“For the record our members have not received any letters terminating their services. They remain employed by HSB.

“Our grievances which relate to poor and dangerous working conditions which threaten our health and affects the discharge of our duties remain unaddressed,” the statement said.

While government was claiming it had provided $17 million towards resolving the nurses’ grievances, ZINA argued the money was part of salary arrears dating back to 2010.

The workers said they had followed due procedure in embarking on the job action and threatened to approach the High Court to stop the HSB from effecting the government decision.

Meanwhile government seemed to be pushing ahead with it’s decision after a directive to recruit beginning Wednesday was issued by the Ministry of Health.

Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health Sidney Makarawo, in a letter to chief executive officers and provincial medical directors, copied to the executive director of the Health Services Board Ruth Kaseke, directed that recruitment of new nursing staff should proceed.

“Reference is made to the press statement by the Vice President Chiwenga on 17 April 2018.

“You are requested to recruit nurses to cover the gaps created by the nurses who were summarily discharged. Please ensure that your relevant teams are in place to facilitate the recruitment and assumption of duty with effect from 18 April 2018 by retired and unemployed nurses,” said Makarawo.

A doctor at Mpilo Hospital late Wednesday however there had been no movement.

“We still have a few senior nurses and trainees. Nobody new has come in. Just as well there is less pressure because of the (independence) holiday,” the doctor said on condition of anonymity.

Makarawo in his letter said central hospitals Wil n allowed to recruit a maximum of 30 retired nurses, 20 for provincial hospitals, 15 at district hospitals, five for rural and one and two each for rural health centers and clinics over and above new nurses who will be recruited.

“Any nurses who were expected on duty on the 16th and 17th (April) and did not report as instructed are deemed to have been summarily dismissed.”