GOVERNMENT, through the Health Services Board (HSB), has moved quickly to regularise a decision by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga to fire thousands of nurses for embarking on a strike demanding better working conditions.
Despite widespread condemnation of Chiwenga’s decision, HSB executive director Ruth Kaseke, in a letter to be used by authorities at public health institutions countrywide said the decision to discharge the nurses was done according to the law.
“This letter serves to communicate the decision by the Health Services Board (HSB) to summarily dismiss you from employment with effect from 17 April 2018 in terms of section 58 (i) (c) (ii) of the Health services regulations Statutory Instrument 117 of 2006 which provides as follows:
“…if the board has reason to believe that a member has declared or taken part in, or advised, encouraged, incited or commanded, aided or procured another person to declare or take part in a work stoppage or continuation of a work stoppage the board may summarily dismiss the member from health service,” Kaseke’s letter reads in part.
She added: “The basis of your dismissal is that the board has reason to believe that you took part in a work stoppage on 16 and or 17 April 2018 notwithstanding that in terms of the Labour (Declaration of essential services) Notice Statutory Instrument 137 of 2003 nurses are designated essential service providers who are restricted from embarking on a work stoppage.”
Nurses embarked on a nationwide strike a week after doctors arm-twisted government into granted them allowances that increases a fresh financial burden on the fiscus.
However, Chiwenga who is in charge of the social cluster fired all those who had taken part in the strike and ordered all public hospitals and clinics to begin the process of recruiting new nurses from the growing pool of unemployed but trained nurses.
The decision drew fire from human rights groups and the opposition, but government seems ready for war even in the face of a looming legal battle.
The HSB urged the dismissed workers to make written representations arguing against their discharge from service.
“Your attention is drawn to the provisions of section 60 of the said regulations in particular section 60 (2) and (3) which provide for due process and your right to make written representations for consideration by the board within one month of receiving this dismissal letter,” said the letter.
Chiwenga, a retired General, has been accused of using military tactics to run civilian administration with some already describing his as an emerging tyrant.