Health Sector Set For Another Collapse As Nurses Down Tools With A Thousand On Suspension
4 November 2020

Morning Post

Around 2 000 nurses in Zimbabwe have downed tools after Government resolved to cancel the flexi hours arrangement which would see nurses who fail to report for duty subjected to disciplinary processes.

At least 1 280 nurses across the country have so far “failed” to heed to the call to return to normal working hours in all the public health institutions and have been summoned to face disciplinary hearings.

Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union secretary-general Chikobvu Douglas said they will continue to defy Government’s position arguing that flexi working hours are a result of a collective bargaining agreement which is still in place.

“Our membership and our profession is under siege from Government after nurses defiantly refused the unilateral ban on flexi hours,” Douglas told ZimMorningPost.

“We now have approximately 2000 nurses up for hearing. Government breached the CBA agreement and went on to summon our nurses for failing to uphold permanent secretary directive to stop flexing. Government is trampling on the democratic spaces of nurses.”

“As nurses we are defiant because the flexi hours were born from the collective bargaining agreement and this agreement still stands.”

“We aborted strike in favour of amicable negotiations but the Government is now instituting punitive measures against our members. Nurses have no other option but to declare incapacitation and call Government to order and stop all impeding unprocedural hearings upon our membership,” Douglas added.

The decision to take measures against “non-compliant” nurses by Government follows an adverse report presented to Cabinet last week by Vice President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga.

The Health Services Board (HSB) and Health ministry, against the desires of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina), saw it fit to ban the flexi hours’ system.

Under the flexi hours regime, nurses working for government would rotate coming to work, with the majority at times reporting for duty for as little as two days per week.

The justification for this was so that those in the healthcare system, particularly nurses, would manage well their incapacitation situation.

Nurses, including many within the public health delivery system, complain that their remunerations fall far below expected levels.

This publication understands that at its sitting last week, Cabinet resolved to cancel the flexi hours arrangement and that nurses who failed to report for duty be subjected to disciplinary processes.

Management at public health institutions was also ordered to take down daily attendance registers for nurses so that they be submitted to the HSB and Health and Child Care Head Office.

It was also ordered by Cabinet that the nursing services be restructured to be supported by three pillars; namely contract workers; Health Service Permanent Workers and Secondment from the Uniformed Forces.