PRESS STATEMENT BY HON. VICE PRESIDENT C.G.N.D. CHIWENGA IN HIS CAPACITY AS THE SUPERVISOR OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES CLUSTER ON THE CONTINUING INDUSTRIAL ACTION BY NURSES.
Against the background of a series of meetings involving Government, the Health Services Board and ZINA, which were meant to resolve the industrial action by nursing staff in the Public Health Sector, and the subsequent decision by Government yesterday to accede to the demands made by the striking nurses, Government regrets to note that the industrial action in this essential service sector has persisted. What makes the whole action both deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that, as agreed yesterday, Government today released and transferred a sum of $17 114 446 into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for on-payment to the striking nurses.
While this demonstrated good faith on the part of Government, the prompt transfers which have been effected against demonstrable economic challenges facing our Nation has not, quite surprisingly, persuaded the striking nurses to go back to their work stations in the interest of saving lives and helping hapless patients placed under their care. Government now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated, and thus as going beyond concerns of conditions of service and worker welfare.
Accordingly, Government has decided, in the interest of patients and of saving lives, to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect. Further, Government has now instructed the Health Services Board to speedily engage, as appropriate, all unemployed but trained nurses in the country. It has 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 redirected and allocated towards meeting the costs of effecting this new directive and arrangement which takes immediate effect.
In the meantime, Government pays singular tribute to all nurses who have loyally remained at work, and to those from the ranks of the striking nurses who have heeded its call for them to return to work. Their commitment to duty and patients, both pointing to a deep regard for life as required by their professional oath, is noted and much appreciated.
Government also appeals to all those visiting public health institutions to exercise patience while services are being restored and brought back to normalcy. Equally, in view of sporadic cases of cholera reported in different parts of the country, all families and individuals are being encouraged to observe strict standards of hygiene in their homes and in all public places. Where symptoms suggest any infections, these must promptly be brought to the attention of health personnel at nearest service points.