Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Nurses have said they will not go on strike, but will continue negotiating with Government on a meaningful cost of living adjustment (Cola), while continuing with their daily duties.
This comes in the wake of the continued withdrawal of labour by doctors who are citing incapacitation due to the loss of value in their earnings because of inflation.
In an interview with The Herald yesterday, Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (ZINA) president Mr Enock Dongo said while their members’ salaries remained low, they had negotiated for other non-monetary benefits of a long-term nature.
“Yes, we are yet to get a meaningful adjustment from the employer, but as ZINA we have also managed to negotiate for other incentives which are valuable to the profession as a whole and have long-term benefits,” said Mr Dongo.
He said the non-monetary benefits included the finalisation of a pension fund for nurses working in mission hospitals, changing of the ministerial structure to also consider nurses for top posts and housing and motor vehicle loans.
“Through the negotiating forum, ZINA successfully lobbied for consideration of nurses for managerial positions in the ministry’s structure,” said Mr Dongo.
“For a long time, only doctors would be considered for these posts.
“We also lobbied for absorption of mission hospital nurses into the Government pension fund, an issue that has also been on the cards for a long time.”
Mr Dongo said principal nursing officers were now going to be directors under changes to be effected in the ministerial structure.
Government, Mr Dongo said, was committed to speeding up work towards revising nursing staff establishments, which were way less than the actual burden of care.
He said following a meeting with President Mnangagwa earlier in the year, Government also committed to work on other incentives such as housing schemes and vehicle loans for nurses.
“ZINA, therefore, values the continued engagements which have reaped fruits to these and other non-monetary benefits,” said Mr Dongo.
“We, however, note with concern that the COLA remains low ever since we started negotiations, but we will continue pushing for a meaningful offer.”
Mr Dongo said one of the achievements under the negotiations was that starting from January 2020, primary care nurses will be upgraded to become diploma holders.
“This decision was made after efforts from ZiNa and it will go a long way in improving the health delivery system as well as personal development for the cadres which are now able to venture anywhere after the upgrade,” he said.
Government recently awarded health workers at least 100 percent adjustments to health specific allowances, which were paid with effect from October 1.
Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said Government was working on another adjustment for civil servants to cushion them from continued price hikes.