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Zimbabwe Govt Fires 16,000 Striking Nurses

FILE: Zimbabwean doctors and nurses demonstrate in Harare on November 18, 2008. AFP PHOTO / DESMOND KWANDE / AFP PHOTO / DESMOND KWANDE

The Zimbabwean government has fired 16,000 striking nurses vowing to replace them with newly-trained and retired nurses.

According to the state-controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, Vice President Constantino Chiwenga dismissed the nurses as in his capacity as the supervisor of the social services cluster.

In a statement, Chiwenga claimed that the Health Service Board (HSB) had conceded to the nurses’ demands by releasing $17,114.446 to the Ministry of Health to pay outstanding allowances for the striking workers.

“What makes the whole action deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that as agreed yesterday (Monday), the government today released and transferred $17,114.446 into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child care for on-payment to the striking nurses.

“While this demonstrates good faith in the part of government, the prompt transfers which have been effected against demonstrable economic challenges facing the country, has not quite surprisingly persuaded the striking nurses to go back to their stations in the interest of saving lives and helping helpless patients under their care. The government now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated and thus as going beyond concerns of conditions of service and worker welfare.”

Chiwenga noted that the government has instructed the HSB to engage all unemployed but trained nurses in Zimbabwe, who are expected to replace the fired nurses.

“We have also authorized the board to recall retired nursing staff into the service … Funds originally released to meet demands of the striking nursing staff will now be re-directed and allocated towards meeting the costs of effecting this new directive and arrangements which will be implemented with immediate effect.”

But Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association secretary general Enock Dongo told VOA Studio 7 that they leant about the government’s move to fire them on ZBC.

“We have not been formally told about our dismissals by the government as we heard this on ZBC. As far as we are concerned this is a non-event.”

Nurses are demanding an upward review of their salaries currently pegged at $284 per month, night duty and medical allowances and related issues, some of them which have been outstanding for many years.

The government owes some nurses more than $1,000 in outstanding allowances.

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