By Anna Chibamu
STRIKING nurses in public hospitals have returned to work following Vice President Constantino Chiwenga’s promise early this week that the government will improve their salaries and working conditions.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) Enock Dongo chairperson, confirmed to NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday that nurses had agreed to return to work and give Chiwenga, who now doubles as Health Minister, an opportunity to renegotiate their terms of conditions.
“Our nurses are back at work in all public health institutions and we expect the situation to normalise soon. As Zimbabwe Nurses Association, we felt it was proper to allow the new minister to start his work on a new page giving him a chance to resolve grievances through negotiations that are currently going on,” said Dongo.
He said ZINA and the government were expected to finalise the negotiations for better salaries and working negotiations this Friday.
“We are having a meeting so you can contact us by lunchtime Friday. All information regarding your questions will be answered,” added Dongo.
Early this week Chiwenga, who once fired all striking nurses at public health centres before they were reinstated later, said the government was finalising on new working conditions for workers.
Nurses, doctors and other health workers have been on strike for over two months in protest over poor working conditions and salaries.
However, Chiwenga who was last month controversially appointed Health Minister by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, this week promised the government was working on the public health employees’ grievances.
He also made a commitment to provide them with housing and vehicle loans as part of improved conditions of service.
“We have now reviewed salaries and allowances as a way of government commitment to make the national health care system competitive. To this end and the overall increase in health-specific allowances will be effected by the government,” Chiwenga said.
“We are convinced that salaries and conditions of service are bound to further improve and be more competitive in the short to medium term because of the import substitution measures that the new Ministry of Health and Child Care is now representing. Housing and vehicle loans will also form part of improved conditions of service.
“As we move forward and face the future with courage, the expectation of government is that the work ethics and work culture within the ministry undergo deep transformation. We expect grievances to be solved amicably through discussion without endangering patient’s lives.
“Never again shall patients’ lives be used as pawns in a game of chase.”