Newly appointed Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has an immediate challenge on his table as striking health workers did not receive their July salaries after the Health Services Board (HSB) implemented the no-work-no-pay principle.
The nurses have been on strike since June, a critical time when their services are required in the fight against Covid-19.
The striking nurses were left counting their losses last month as they did not benefit from the US$75 Covid-19 allowances that the Government paid others who were reporting for duty.
In an interview yesterday, HSB deputy director public relations, Ms. Tryfine Rachael Dzvukutu confirmed the development saying the nurses who have been striking didn’t get their June salaries plus increment and the US$75 allowance.
“The striking nurses didn’t receive their July salaries and it’s because they were removed from the payroll by the Health Services Board on a no-work-no-pay basis,” she said.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Mr Enock Dongo said members of his association who were on strike were not paid last month after they were removed from the payroll.
He said after declaring incapacitation at the beginning of June, some nurses reacted by not reporting for duty.
Mr Dongo said in May, they received $3 400 as basic salary, an amount he said wasn’t enough to cover their monthly demands such as rentals, food and transport costs.
“Following the May salary, we declared incapacitation in June and spontaneously, nurses just reacted because they were expecting a salary increase and didn’t report for work. They were surprised in July when they received no salary, the 50 percent salary increase and even the US$75 allowances which were received by all the civil servants,” he said.
Mr Dongo said the nurses are dejected and are willing to return to work but are still incapacitated. He urged the Government to reinstate the striking workers on the salary schedule so that they are able to report for duty.
“We hear the plea for the health workers to return to work and save lives, we want to and appreciate his call but we are incapacitated. We feel neglected by all this,” said Mr Dongo.
On Wednesday, Finance and Economic Development Minister Prof Mthuli Ncube said negotiations for an annual cost of living adjustment between the Government and its employees under the National Joint Negotiating Council had started and will end within the next two months.
Prof Ncube said there would be recognition of the work that health workers do.
“We have started negotiations for the annual normal cost of living adjustments, that process will take us to around September or October there will be further adjustments in that regard. There will be special programs that recognize the health work they do and the risk that they take,” he said. “There will be a special health sector allowance and then there is a special Covid-19 risk allowance, then there is a US$75 wage balance. So, there is a layer of additional benefits and these benefits are tax-free.”