Nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital in Bulawayo Thursday heeded the call by the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) to withdraw their labour over failure by the cash-strapped government to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), at a time the world is battling to contain the deadly Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement Wednesday, ZINA announced the industrial action, which they said was with immediate effect.
“Following our letter that was presented to our employer 48 hours ago, informing them to urgently attend to our demands as frontline workers, it seems our concerns are not getting the urgency they deserve,” said ZINA.
“So, in that regard, all nurses are withdrawing their services with immediate effect until there is genuine action taken by the employer. We will only get back to work once our concerns have been swiftly acted upon. No PPE, no work; no corona allowance, no work; no water, no work.”
CITE news crew upon visiting Mpilo Central Hospital this morning, found it deserted with only senior nurses and some individuals manning wards.
The hospital’s public relations officer, Ozias Ndlovu, confirmed nurses did not report for duty.
“Yes, they withdrew their services late yesterday,” Ndlovu told CITE.
“Even up to now they are still out. They never reported for duty although there are few individuals who came; they are covering up here and there with the help of senior nursing management.”
He said the government had since procured protective clothing for the hospital, with the consignment still in Harare awaiting delivery soon.
Asked what impact the strike by nurses had on service delivery, Ndlovu said: “Of course there are challenges here and there in service delivery but Coronavirus on its own has brought even more challenges compared to what the nurses have done.”
He said the hospital was only attending to critical cases, with those patients whose condition is not dire being turned away while focus is directed at COVID-19.
When CITE visited United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) some nurses including student nurses could be seen moving around the hospital.
At the main gate, there were nurses who were conducting the Coronavirus screening while also applying sanitisers to visitors.
“There is no strike here as you can see, I am here,” said one of the nurses.
However, sources told CITE the strike later took effect.
But UBH acting chief executive officer, Narcisius Dzvanga, denied nurses at the hospital were on industrial action.
“Not at all,” he denied.
Meanwhile, nurses at Plumtree District Hospital also reportedly heeded the ZINA call for downing of tools and deserted the hospital in the border town.
However, nurses at Mzilikazi and Mpopoma clinics in Bulawayo were attending to patients.