Nurses at various health institutions have demanded the restoration of flexible working hours which resonate well with their meagre salaries as the situation in hospitals continues to deteriorate.
This comes after Vice President Constantino Chiwenga launched an ambitious health restructuring policy meant to revitalize the dilapidated health sector.
Under the policy, Chiwenga banned the flexy-hours which meant shorter working hours for nurses.
However, the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union(ZPNU) accused Chiwenga of creating an enslavement environment which will further worsen the condition of the health workers.
“We ultimately denounce and condemn the unilateral ban on flexy hours as illegitimate. The latest looming framework of subjecting nurses to contracts especially those who are deemed to incite strikes or participate during industrial disharmony so that they can be illegally dismissed, is inhuman and uncalled for,” reads the letter.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association President Enock Dongo has reiterated that nurses will return to the Flexi-hour schedule until the government improves their welfare.
“We are going to continue with our flexible hours although some hospitals are demanding their workers to follow the government directive,” said Dongo.
“The authorities seem to be ignorant of the country’s legal framework. We rejected what was proposed last week. The confidence is running out on the new ministry management,” Dongo added.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Jasper Chimedza recently wrote to all hospital chief executive officers and provincial medical directors saying flexi-hours were creating more problems in hospitals.
“All categories of nurses are supposed to work for 40 hours per week. However, they have been on flexi-hours since November 2019. The flexi-hours are causing the following challenges, no proper handover and takeover, no continuity of nursing care, compromised quality of patient care, exaggerated shortage of nurses resulting in inadequate ward coverage.
“Therefore, all heads of institutions are kindly advised to stop the flexi working hours forthwith. All nurses should resume normal 40 working hours per week with immediate effect,” Chimedza wrote.
The government has threatened to fire nurses who go on strike and also said they were going to be removed from being permanent employees.