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No End To Labor Unrest In Zimbabwe Hospitals - Nurses Back On Strike

In the latest chapter of Zimbabwe's health care labor crisis, nurses at Harare Hospital went back on strike on Wednesday in response to the government's latest offer of supplementary payments to nurses as well as some striking doctors.

The government awarded nursing staff and some of the hospital residents who went on strike Dec. 21 additional payments ranging from Z$250,000 to Z$300,000. But the nurses, who are demanding a minimum of Z$3 million a month, and the doctors, who want at least a monthly Z$5 million dollars, said the state offer fell far short.

Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe spoke with one of the striking nurses at Harare Hospital, who identified himself only as Jenami and blamed confusion in the hospitals on what he said were false promises by the government.

Meanwhile, nurses at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, and junior and senior residents in Harare and Bulawayo, continued their labor action with no resolution in sight.

Sources said talks between the doctors and top Health Ministry officials had ended in an impasse, and that doctors were now negotiating with health advisors to President Robert Mugabe. Further details on those negotiations could not be obtained.

Meanwhile, the government faces a deadline set by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which said that if Harare does not address grievances of health care and other workers by February 23, it will call a nationwide general strike.

ZCTU General Secretary Wellington Chibebe said his organization has taken this step to show the government that it must take urgent action to resolve labor issues.

More reports from VOA'S Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...