#BREAKING: Health Workers Down Tools… Reject US$75 COVID-19 Allowances

HEALTH workers across board have downed tools  effective immediately in protest to government’s failure to address their grievances despite numerous calls for an amicable solution to their plight.

By Michael Gwarisa

In a letter written to the Health Services Board Executive Director, Mrs Ruth Kaseke by representatives from all organisations representing health workers in the country, Health workers demanded that their salaries revert back to the October 1 2018 figures which were pegged in USD terms and indicated that all health workers have rejected the US$75 offer with the contempt it deserves.

The back pay has been eroded by inflation. To that end, the healthcare workers are economically incapacitated to continue reporting for duty until the remuneration package is reviewed to their satisfaction.

“The healthcare workers demand that salaries revert back to the 1st of October 2018 digits that were quoted in USD which is a stable currency that can store value of that salary. In that way, pensions, savings, medical aids, funeral policies will not continue to be eroded.

“This letter saves to inform you that the health care workers as you might have witnessed have already taken matters into their own hands and have withdrawn their services. Therefore, we would like to officially communicate to the health apex that health workers have withdrawn their services with immediate effect until our demands are met.”

The health workers have also united in rejecting government’s US$75 COVID-19 allowances saying it was a mockery and a decoy meant to divert attention from the real issues affecting health workers.

“We have noted with great concern the circular on various media platforms that the government has offered US$75 as COVID-19 allowances across board and this is applaudable as this is a global trend during this pandemic.

“However, we as health care workers await for a communique based on the CBA on our allowances pegged in United States Dollars. Our members have rejected the current US$75 with the contempt it deserves,” said the health workers.

The letter was signed by  all  workers representative bodies namely the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA), the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Zimbabwe Health Workers Union (ZHWU), Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Zimbabwe Confederation of Midwives (ZCM), Zimbabwe Health Services Administrators Association (ZHSAA), Zimbabwe Environmental Health Practitioners Association (ZEHPA), Nurse Aids Association of Zimbabwe (NAAZ), Association of Medical Specialists in Training in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union, Zimbabwe Pharmacy Technicians Association, Zimbabwe Food Services Supervisors Association, Zimbabwe Medical Rehabilitation Technicians Association and the Zimbabwe Radiographers Association.

Health workers wrote to the HSB on  May 23 citing incapacitation as a result of the harsh macro-economic conditions characterised by hyperinflation, exchange rate volatility and the three tier pricing subsystem.

“The health apex position suggested a need for a Cost of living Adjustment in the second quarter of 2020. Sadly up to now, no formal communication has been received from the employer by way of writing or convening of the HSBNP.

“Since that date up to now, the social-economic situation has continued to deteriorate with inflation rate reaching 785% (Year on Year) and the exchange rate reaching over RTGS$90 to 1USD. The bread basket for a family of six as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe is now pegged at ZW$ 8500. The current ZW$3000 salaries can’t sustainably take care of the families of health care workers under the prevailing socio-economic situation.”

Meanwhile, the Health Sector Allowances which were backdated to January 1, 2020 were not paid according to the CBA 2 of 2020.

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