CHITUNGWIZA council nurses have downed tools citing poor working conditions, among them salary arrears and lack of personal protective equipment (PPE).
BY MOSES MUGUGUNYEKI
Healthcare workers at the four council-run clinics yesterday told NewsDay that they could not continue risking their lives.
Stranded patients at St Mary’s and Zengeza clinics pleaded with the local authority to address the nurses’ grievances as a matter of urgency.
“We came here early in the morning, but the nurses did not attend to us. There is a poster on the door where they (health workers) have listed their grievances. It means they are on strike,” Gibson Nyoni, one of the patients from Nyatsime, said.
Chitungwiza Municipality runs four clinics — Makoni (Seke North), Zengeza, St Mary’s and Unit L (Seke South), which is a proposed COVID-19 isolation centre.
The healthcare workers said they had gone for 40 months without salaries and were yet to receive their promised risk allowances.
“We have gone for 40 months without a salary and on top of that, the employer has not released the COVID-19 risk allowances which we are supposed to get,” a health worker at Zengeza Clinic said.
“We have decided to withdraw our services in protest over poor working conditions coupled with lack of COVID-19 consumables, including the requisite PPE. We cannot continue to work without these because our lives are at risk. We hear our colleagues at some hospitals in Harare have tested positive to COVID-19.”
Chitungwiza Municipality has 70 nurses, 40 nurse aides, eight environmentalists, 12 pest controllers and three health promoters working under the health department.
Chitungwiza Residents Trust (Chitrest) said council should honour its obligation to save people’s lives.
“We have learnt with sadness that the health workers at Chitungwiza Municipality clinics are on a job action,” said Alice Kuvheya of Chitrest.
“The workers are demanding PPE, salaries and COVID-19 allowances. This is very disappointing, particularly in the wake of a COVID-19 pandemic. It is our clarion call to council to urgently address this anomaly.”
Acting town clerk Tonderai Kasu said the strike was illegal.
“The illegal strike that was embarked on by Chitungwiza Municipality nurses this morning was completely unnecessary because even before the strike had started, central government had already made a commitment that it is going to start paying all of our health professional staff,” Kasu said.
“Our health staff rushed to go on an illegal strike not knowing this, and I am sure they would not have if they had known. Central government had previously indicated that they are using powers under the Civil Protection Act to take over our city council clinics in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said council had met Health permanent secretary Agnes Mahomva over the issue of allowances and health workers’ bank details had since been submitted.
Chitungwiza has been rocked by administrative and political problems over the past two decades.
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