By Trevor Makonyonga
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) has vowed to down tools if the government fails to meet its demands.
The nurses association wants their salaries reviewed upwards and personal protective equipment (PPEs) provided as they are frontline workers during the global pandemic and at risk of COVID 19 infection.
ZINA president, Enoch Dongo urged the government to emulate countries that have increased nurses salaries by at least threefold and prioritise their welfare.
“We really need the government to review the remuneration of nurses especially this time, where the nurses are our soldiers who are on the frontline fighting COVID-19. They need to be remunerated well. You know psychologically and mentally the nurses have to be stable.
“Government should prioritise nurses right now as we speak and pay them well. As we have seen in other countries, they have multiplied the nurse’s salaries by 5 times, others by 4 or by three just to make sure they take care of their soldiers who are fighting the pandemic.”
Dongo added that his association cannot risk the health of its members by letting them report to work without PPEs.
Globally over a thousand health workers have contracted the corona virus from their workstations while others have succumbed to the virus.
“Downing tools is the last option that we consider in each and every negotiation that we do. If government did not listen to our plight to make sure they remunerate us well and if the government fails to provide us with the PPEs we will have no choice because we cannot afford as an association to send our soldiers to war without guns. The issue of PPEs is a topical one that we want the government to address so that they won’t put us in a corner for us to make the decision to down our tools. But downing tools remains the last option. We prefer the government to do their part by remunerating nurses and providing PPEs.”
ZINA, however, applauded the move by the government to provide health care workers with flexible working hours.
“That is in line with COVID because we don’t want to expose our nurses. It also gives nurses time to breathe. If they come for a week and rest for two weeks that is protection. That is a protection against the collapse of the health system and that is a protection for our nurses against the COVID-19. If a group who are at work for a week is exposed then those who off for two weeks can come in to provide cover. Also, nurses shifts have changed. They now work from 7-4 instead of 7-7. Cutting their shift from 12 hours to 8 hours.’