Zimbabwe health workers divided over strike

Published: 20 June 2019
HEALTH workers are divided over the Health Service Board (HSB)'s appeal to give government a chance for negotiations before embarking on a strike that will leave many patients stranded.

HSB chairperson Paulinus Sikhosana has appealed to the Health Apex Council which has threatened to embark on a full blown strike, saying it should consider the welfare of patients first before downing tools.

"Please be advised that government is seized with resolving the plight of all public servants including that of health workers. The HSB therefore urges health workers to give a chance to continued engagement on outstanding grievances," he said in a statement.

However, health workers have dissimilar reactions as some want to give dialogue a chance while others are saying the Health Apex Council's decision of withdrawing services will remain valid until government gives them a salary increase.

Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) secretary general Douglas Chikobvu said as HSB is their employer nurses are willing to give dialogue a chance.

"We would want that engagement to be productive and fulfilling so that the heath sector pulls in synchrony towards expected objectives. As ZPNU, we believe engagement is ideal but we would be happy if the government honours and addresses our plight in tandem with market forces (Cost of living Adjustment)."

Chikobvu added that if government genuinely addresses their problems, duties will be carried out without disruptions.
This comes as government recently pleaded with civil servants not to adopt a confrontational approach as they press for salary increases saying only dialogue can bring a lasting solution to their problems.

On the other hand,Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) secretary general Mthabisi Bhebhe said they are not considering the appeal as they have engaged enough and dialogued with HSB; yet no positive results ever came out."We are already mobilising more health workers to take part in the strike. Even if we wanted to give the HSB more time, there's no prospect of having our salaries reviewed with a collective protest. Their response has always been the same," Bhebhe said.

Health workers have threatened to withdraw their services following government's failure to address their grievances within the 14-day ultimatum it had been given.
While nurses at public health institutions have cut their working hours to two days a week, some teachers have followed suit and are threatening to down tools if government does not review their salaries.

The country is faced with a crippling economic crisis which has eroded most workers' salaries as the local currency continues to devalue.

The cost of living has also gone up with prices of basic commodities skyrocketing every now and then, making life unbearable for Zimbabweans workers whose salaries have not been reviewed to cushion them.

- dailynews
Tags: Strike,


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