HARARE, June 20 — Zimbabwean government health workers on Monday went on strike, citing incapacitation to continue reporting for work.
Workers at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, which is the country’s biggest referral center, marched to the offices of the Health Service Board within the hospital complex before gathering outside residential hostels for trainee nurses.
A source at the hospital told Xinhua that they had resolved that the industrial action would continue until their demands for higher salaries were met.
“The lowest-paid employee has been earning 18,000 Zimbabwean dollars (ZWL). The government’s award of 100 percent only takes that employee to 36,000 dollars plus the 175 U.S. dollars in allowances, which does not take that employee anywhere,” said the source who declined to be named fearing victimization.
As of Monday, the exchange rate was 1 U.S. dollar to 338.4921 ZWL.
The Zimbabwe Health Apex Council last week notified members of the public that its members would withdraw their services starting Monday, alleging that their employer — the Health Service Board — had also refused to meet them since April 2021.
They said inflation had skyrocketed and is now greater than 130 percent, year on year, with the poverty datum line for a small family of six now standing at 133,000 ZWL which even the highest-earning healthcare worker could no longer meet.
“As the government health workers of Zimbabwe, it is with regret that we inform the general public that we have taken a decision to withdraw our labor effective Monday, June 20, 2022, ” said the council said in the notice. “It is not a decision that was taken lightly, we are fully cognizant of the human costs related to any action of this kind but the conditions of service, specifically the remuneration of healthcare workers are presently so poor that most health workers can no longer afford the service they provide and nor are they able to look after and fend for their families.”
It said that it was common knowledge that the economic conditions prevailing in the country had rapidly deteriorated especially over the last three months.
“The decision to withdraw service has only come after repeated efforts to engage the employer, the Health Service Board, and the Ministry of Health and Childcare, pleading with them to review the conditions of service of health workers,” the council said.
The government last week said it had increased workers’ salaries by 100 percent starting July, with a promise to continue to review the workers’ salaries in line with the prevailing economic conditions.
Minister of Public Service, Labor and Social Welfare Paul Mavima said a meeting between the government and its workers was scheduled for this week. (Xinhua)