Nurses in Bulawayo have threatened to down their tools in the next two weeks if their grievances are not addressed, a situation that will put more strain on the health delivery system in government-owned institutions.
The nurses reiterated they are incapacitated to carry out their daily duties as their salaries barely get them through the month.
This warning from the nurses comes at a time when doctors have not been reporting for duty citing similar challenges.
The nurses said they have written a letter to their employer, the Hospital Services Board (HSB).
Some of the nurses who spoke to CITE on condition of anonymity said should the government not address their issues in the next fourteen days they are ready to down their tools.
“The money they give us is not enough to get us by. We are in the process of engaging our representatives from ZINA. Our position is that if they do not review our grievances especially as afar as finances are concerned, then they should at least let us work one day and one night in a week,” they said.
“We are so incapacitated that we are forced to queue for cheaper buses to and from work. We cannot even afford to get treatment in institutions we work at when we fall sick. We are expected to pay full amounts yet we do not earn much. When we use medical aid cards at surgeries, they demand foreign currency for shortfalls. The situation is becoming worse with each day.”
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) President, Enock Dongo noted that the nurses position to call for industrial action is justified considering the rate at which their salaries get eroded due to the economic situation.
Dongo said the government needs to retain the value of salaries they were paying nurses in October 2018 for them to be able to get by.
He said the nurses, have shown ‘patriotism’ by soldering on and reporting for duty despite the challenges but they have now come to a point where they can no longer sustain themselves.
“What we want from the government is to retain salary values. Last year nurses were getting around $800, therefore, that amount must be calculated at the prevailing interbank rate. This is not a new conversation we are having with the government, we have been telling them on several occasions,” said Dongo.
“The new system they (nurses) are proposing is actually there to subsidise the government. Right now, they are being given ZW$100 as transport allowance. This money is deposited into their accounts and because of taxes and hustles of acquiring cash they end up getting only ZW$50 cash. Transport fares to work are expensive, they are struggling to get by.”