NURSES at public hospitals have threatened to stage sit-in protests to register their displeasure over government’s move to force them to work 40-hour weekly shifts after unilaterally scrapping the flexi-hours they had agreed on.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU/PHILLIS MBANJE
In a statement yesterday, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) castigated government’s move to fire 1 232 striking nurses, describing it as an attack on trade unionism.
This also comes at a time more than 200 nurses in Bulawayo and other cities are set to face disciplinary action following their suspension on charges of absconding from duty after the reintroduction of the 40-hour weekly shifts.
“We genuinely believe that the charging of all these is a direct attack on trade unionism in Zimbabwe, which is a constitutional right. The disciplinary proceedings are meant to coerce compliance from nurses and silence them on speaking out their rights,” Zina said.
The nurses said the intention by government was to charge them en masse and dismiss them all, then force them to rejoin the civil service either on short-term contracts or as members of the unformed forces.
“In both scenarios, nurses will have had their voice taken away from them to raise genuine labour grievances. Thus the real attack is on labour rights in Zimbabwe,” Zina said.
On the 40-hour weekly shifts which were suspended in November 2019, Zina president Enock Dongo said: “They might succeed for now with their cruel plans to force the re-introduction of 40-hour shifts, but there is not going to be any service delivery. The people who are going to be affected are the ordinary citizens who will not get any services.
“Until and unless these anomalies are rectified and done correctly, nurses will only go and report for duty, but will not offer any services. As the situation stands, nurses remain incapacitated and hence the defiance against the 40-hour weekly shifts.”
Dongo said the only reason that allows for the removal of flexi-hours is when government is able to pay proper salaries that can cater for nurses’ basic needs.