By Tatenda Gumbo
Some nurses in Zimbabwe are boycotting night shift duties insisting they need higher allowances and better working conditions.
Nurses in the Harare, Chitungwiza and Chinhoyi hospitals are downing tools after their day shirts refusing to work any night shifts over what they say is lack of proper payment of allowances. The boycott which began at Chitungwiza Central Hospital last week, moved to other hospitals over the weekend.
Enock Dongo, chairperson of the Harare chapter of the Nurses Association of Zimbabwe, told VOA Studio 7 they decided to take this action as the government has over the years failed to address these issues.
“They are being paid $3 after working 7 days of night duty, and I think that is actually a mockery. So, they are demanding a review of that night duty allowance,” said Dongo.
He said nurses are also complaining of grading, as nurses expected grade changes since 2010 after negotiations with the relevant authorities.
Nurses said during negotiations they requested $150 per 7-day night shift, but they settled for $70 per seven-day shift, a figures which was also endorsed by the Health Services Board.
“If you calculate $3 divide by 7 days, I don’t know how much that will be per day, then divide it by 24 hours, that’s something like cents [per hour],” said Dongo.
Responding to the nurses’ industrial action, Health Minister Dr. David Parirenyatwa said nurses should end the boycott, adding that negotiations to address their grievances are in progress.
Parirenyatwa said the association’s executive remained in negotiations with the Health Services Board to reach an agreement with all stakeholders, although nurses said they have continuously negotiated without a proper solution.
He added that the night duty boycott was not acceptable and implored nurses to return to their posts while stakeholders negotiated.
“They are working throughout the day, and then boycott night duty. And we are saying that is not acceptable in the sense that you make patients suffer, patients who will have been admitted during the day, they don’t have enough cover at night. And that is really unprofessional and unethical,” said Parirenyatwa. VOA Studio 7