Nurses in disarray; union calls off strike as meeting with minister fails to take place

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Staff Reporter

THE Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) has called off its industrial action as the government sticks to its guns and insists that it has dismissed thousands for joining the strike.

In a statement Saturday, ZINA said the collective job action had been “politicised”.

“It highly regrettable that our cause of collective job action has been highly politicised. This has portrayed us in bad light,” the union said.

Government, through Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, reacted to the industrial action by nurses by dismissing all those who participated and began a process of recruiting new ones as well as recalling retired personnel back to the service.

While reactions from rights lobby groups and the opposition has been swift and brutal, government remains unflinching which could have forced the nurses into a corner.

ZINA said it wanted to give negotiations a chance, but this seems to have been rebuffed after a meeting with Health Minister David Parirenyatwa did not materialise.

“To pave way for negotiations and protection of our workers we have decided to call off the industrial action. 

“The scheduled meeting with the minister did not take place,” said ZINA.

The nurses have already approached the courts to force government to rescind its decision and ZINA said the legal action would proceed.

“Our court application still remains on course and papers have been served on the defendant and we anticipate the court to sit soon to determine our case. 

“We therefore encourage all our members to report on (sic) duty by Monday,” said the statement.

Following the tabling of demands by the nurses, government reportedly offered $17 million to off-set outstanding salaries but the nurses refused to call-off the strike, triggering the mass dismissals.

ZINA seemed to suggest that government had negotiated in bad faith.

“If you recall government said it had offered us $17 million but this promise never came into fruition because they sighted that they can only pay only those on duty.

“Since the announced summarily dismissals of nurses no negotiations have taken place with the employer because we are deemed dismissed,” added the seemingly apologetic statement.

The call for ZINA members to return to work could cement government’s position and spew victimisation for those who took part in the strike.