BY RICHARD MUPONDE
GOVERNMENT is headed for a showdown with health workers after it scrapped non-claimable night-duty allowances.
This was announced by Health Services Board (HSB) executive director Ruth Kaseke last week in a letter gleaned by NewsDay, where she was responding to the apex panel which had written requesting for a review of the health-sector specific allowances.
The changes are effective April 1, 2021.
The situation is likely to further agitate health workers whose morale is already low and might trigger industrial action.
“It’s noted that at the health sector bipartite negotiating platform meeting of April 7 2020, apex panel requested for review of health sector-specific allowances. Please be advised that Treasury has affirmed its position, as communicated to the board in letters dated January 7, 2020 and March 2, 2020 and as communicated in previous bipartite meetings, that the review of health sector-specific allowances will ideally take subject to changing the payment framework for the allowances from non-claimable to claimable,” Kaseke wrote.
“You may note, however, that Treasury acknowledged that only nurse managers and special health allowances may remain non-claimable due to the nature of allowances. It is in this regard that on-call, night-duty and standby/callout allowances have to be claimed on a monthly basis after review.”
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo yesterday said the government was being cruel to its workers, adding that nurses would not tolerate the removal of the allowances.
“There is no way that we expect the government to remove what it had given to its workers. It’s tantamount to victimisation and provocation. We feel that the government wants to provoke workers so that they take the matter into their own hands.
“It’s the trend globally that workers who work overtime are paid. It shows that the employer is very cruel, instead of thanking their workers by giving them remuneration; they want to thank them by removing the peanuts which we were being given since 2018. That is bad and we are not going to tolerate that,” Dongo said.
The government position comes two years after nurses went on a crippling strike, demanding living wages and better working conditions. However, the government responded by firing thousands of nurses who went on strike and later re-engaged them.