High Court to hear nurses' application

HARARE - The High Court will tomorrow hold a hearing on an application filed by disgruntled nurses who are challenging government’s decision to terminate their contracts following last week’s industrial action.

Justice Amy Tsanga will hear the application.

In their urgent application that was filed in the High Court, the nurses’ representative body, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), argued that the government’s decision — which was communicated by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga — should be declared null and void.

“The respondents and all those acting through them be and are hereby restrained and interdicted from terminating the services of the applicants pending confirmation of discharge of this provisional order.

“Alternatively, in the event that the respondents and all those acting through them proceed with termination before the finalisation of this matter, that termination be and is hereby declared null and void; further the respondents be and are hereby restrained and interdicted from filling the positions of the applicants,” Zina secretary general Enock Dongo — who cited the Health Services Board (HSB), Health Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa and Chiwenga as respondents — said.

The nurses also insisted that their employment contracts still subsisted.

Last week, and on the eve of Independence Day, the government announced that it had fired all striking nurses who did not heed its order to return to work, arguing that their action was allegedly politically motivated and had nothing to do with their conditions of service.

“What makes the whole action both deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that, as agreed yesterday, government today released and transferred a sum of $17 114 446 into the account of the ministry of Health and Child Care for on-payment to the striking nurses.

“Accordingly, government has decided, in the interest of patients and of saving lives, to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect.

“Further, government has now instructed the Health Services Board to speedily engage, as appropriate, all unemployed but trained nurses in the country. It has also authorised the board to recall retired nursing staff into the service,” Chiwenga said in a statement which was roundly condemned by many interest groups.

Thousands of nurses across the country went on strike last week after they failed to reach an agreement with the government on their demands for a pay hike and improved working conditions.

The nurses had appeared to have been appeased by the March 30, 2018 collective bargaining agreement, which among other things had pushed for improved allowances for standby nurses stationed at rural health centres, as well as the introduction of new allowances to nursing staff who acquire approved qualifications.

There was also an introduction of an allowance to nurse managers on a non-claimable rate of $350 to $450 per month.

State doctors also embarked on a crippling month-long strike recently, ultimately winning their demand for an upward review in their pay and allowances.

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