By Pamela Shumba
Some hospitals have reduced working days for nurses from five days to three to cushion the health workers from transport costs following the Government’s postponement of June salary payment dates for civil servants.
The Government shifted pay dates for most civil servants to this month.
Nurses at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) told The Chronicle that authorities announced on Wednesday that they had increased shift hours and reduced working days to cut their transport costs and curb absenteeism.
They said they will work from 7AM to 7PM for three days and be off work for the rest of the week.
A normal shift starts at 7AM and ends at 4PM.
Those on night shift will work the same 12 hours.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) secretary general Mr Enock Dongo yesterday said the development was welcome.
He said it was important for the government to come up with strategies that don’t strain and demotivate workers during this difficult time.
“I understand that some hospitals are already doing it but I’m not sure whether the government has implemented it. It’s a suggestion that we brought to the government during negotiations after looking at the financial situation.
“We understand the challenge and we assure the government that nurses are devoted to their work but it’s difficult to work under such circumstances. We therefore recommended that we reduce the working days,” said Mr Dongo.
He said according to the arrangement, the nurses will work less days a week but still cover the stipulated hours.
“Reducing the number of days reduces costs for the nurses. It also minimises absenteeism. The Government has to support this because their workers have to be motivated.
“Apart from transport expenses, they have to pay bills and rentals. Nurses work with a sensitive clientele that requires them to be stress free when they deliver their duties,” said Mr Dongo.
He added that health workers were not different from workers in the security sector since their duty is to save people from dying.
“We made a request and the Government agreed that with effect from July nurses will be recognised as a security sector because of the nature of their job,” said Mr Dongo.
He said the nurses’ association rejected the $100 offered by the Government, describing it as a mockery.
“We refused to accept the $100 because 99 percent of the workers have loans with their banks. The $100 will simply go to the bank and the workers will still remain with nothing.
“The nurses have worked and they simply have to be given their dues accordingly,” said Mr Dongo.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa could not be reached for comment yesterday. UBH chief executive officer Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu was also not available.
The Government changed salary payment dates and proposed to pay members of the Zimbabwe National Army on June 27 followed by police and prison officers on June 30.
The education sector will be paid on July 7 followed by health workers and the rest of the civil service on July 14. Pensioners will get their dues on July 19. The Chronicle