THE Health Services Board (HSB) has slated the month-long industrial action by nurses as illegal saying they rushed to withdraw labour without sufficient notice.
HSB, through the Attorney-General’s Civil Division, said the strike was a threat to people’s constitutional right to health and is likely to cause loss of life and so has approached the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare seeking an order declaring the strike illegal.
Nurses withdrew their labour on June 18 and have not returned to work despite the spike in confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The board, which employs the nurses, is demanding an explanation from the Zimbabwe Nurses Association why their strike should not be declared illegal.
In the papers filed at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare recently, HSB said the strike was illegal and the nurses were acting in violation of the country’s supreme law.
“The strike is illegal on account of the fact that the workers have embarked on the strike without an attempt to present their grievances or conciliate the dispute. A certificate of no-settlement was not issued as required under Section 93 of the Labour Act.”
The nurses did not give 14 days’ notice as required by the law and just withdrew labour without notice, said the HSB in its submission and the strike puts the nation at serious health risk and it must be called off.
“It is common cause that the health workers are essential service providers and their withdrawal of labour causes unnecessary loss of life,” argues HSB.
However, ZINA secretary-general Mr Enock Dongo said the strike was lawful and it was staged due to incapacitation and fear of exposing nurses to the risk of infection by Covid-19.
“We feel our strike is within the law and it is legal. It was due to genuine incapacitation.”
Besides the pay issue, the nurses want better protective equipment.
“We went on to inform the Government that we are at risk of contracting Covid-19 because there is no personal protective equipment. A number of nurses so far have contracted Covid-19 and that confirms we are at risk and where we feel unsafe, we have to withdraw services until we get protective equipment,” he said.