Zimbabwe’s fight towards mitigating the spread of Covid-19 which has so far killed four and infected 37, could be hit a fatal blow after health workers threatened to engage in a strike which could start this afternoon.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president, Enock Dongo, who is also the Health Apex Council team leader, has written a letter to Health secretary Agnes Mahomva, informing the Government of the medical staffers’ intention to engage in industrial action.
In a May 11 letter, Dongo called for the reinstatement of flexible working hours and the provision of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for use during the current Covid-19 epoch.
The government has until 3pm today to address the health workers’ concerns.
“In pursuance of paragraph 4 above, this communication serves as notice that should you not revoke your directive by 3pm on May 12, 2020, all health workers are proceeding to withdraw their labour and engage in a collective job action in protest against this directive with effect from May 13, 2020,” Dongo wrote.
“This notice is in terms of section 104(4)(a) of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01), which allows those in the essential services to resort to collective job action to avoid any occupational hazard, which poses an immediate threat to the health or safety of employees,” he said.
He also bemoaned the fact that Government has not been forthcoming in reaching a consensus with the nurses ‘to find a reasonable conclusion to the attempted removal of the flexi-hours system”.
Dongo said it was worrying that the Government has been making ‘unilateral decisions’, giving a blind eye to the bipartite negotiating forum.
The prevailing circumstances, the nurses say, were deplorable and put them at risk of contracting the COVID-19.
In his confirmation of the latest developments, Douglas Chikobvu, the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union secretary-general said the erred by docking flexi-hours.
He described the move as a ‘total declaration of war’.
“Nurses are raring to confront the employer and government over broken promises and agreement. This confrontation will be seen through collective job action of five days per week,” Chikobvu said.