Underpaid Health Workers in Zimbabwe on Strike for Better Working Conditions
On Thursday, June 16th, the Zimbabwean Nurses Union announced that healthcare workers would not be going to work on Monday as they will be on strike for better salaries and acceptable working environments.
This would be the second time that the health care workers don’t arrive at work in a span of 2 years due to low salaries and unacceptable working environments.
The Zimbabwe Health Apex Council (ZHAC) is well aware of the consequences this action has on the economy and the health of patients in both private and public hospitals.
However, due to the circumstances in the last 3 months and the nation seeing 132% inflation, it is hard for health workers to carry out their services or care for themselves.
The ZHAC said, “The poor conditions of service have caused a significant brain drain within the health sector, with more than 4,000 resignations in the last three years.”
Patients who are admitted to Zimbabwe’s public hospitals need to arrive with their own medical supplies due to a shortage of supplies in the public hospitals, with many not having enough supplies to carry out their services.
One patient’s relative said, “The hospital had even ordered us to buy gloves, bandages, and paracetamol for my sister but now the nurses have gone.”
As of Friday, June 17th, the government proposed to increase the salary by 100% for all civil servants in hope that they would accept the offer and not go on strike.
The proposed amount was equivalent to $99.77 for an entry-level civil worker but the ZHAC undoubtedly declined it as they believed it wouldn’t make a difference to what they were already earning.
The ZHAC mentioned they would not stop striking until they are remunerated $540 monthly for their services, as that was their salary back in 2018.
More Insight on Strike action by underpaid Health Workers in Zimbabwe
Many healthcare workers have demanded to be paid pre-2018 United States dollar salaries due to inflation lowering the value of the local currency.
Government officials including Mthuli Ncube, the Finance minister, and John Mangudya, the Reserve Bank governor, went on record stating that the nation has “no capacity to meet US dollar salary demands.
Jonathan Wutawunashe, the Public Service Commission secretary, said, “The meeting adjourned without any consensus and the parties will reconvene next week for further discussions. The situation is, however, not dire.”
In 2017, Emmerson Mnangagwa was elected to take over presidential duties from Robert Mugabe, who was the president of the nation at the time.
He gave assurance to the people that he would end the economic recession that the country had been battling since 2009.
Gift Mugano, an economics professor at the University of Zimbabwe Business School, mentioned that this strike would only be the beginning of many as people had been tolerating these crises for a long time. Although there is a proposal of a 100% increase in the salaries, it still doesn’t have an impact on the damage already done.
Mugano is certain the only solution to fix this economic crisis is to remunerate salaries in US dollars or else the country will continue experiencing a lack of health care workers in both private and public hospitals.