VP Chiwenga recently promised to improve the working conditions of health workers. This comes as the Health Apex Council has rejected a proposed 40 percent salary increase for doctors, nurses and other health workers that the government recently tabled. Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga who is also the country’s Health Minister has pledged to improve the working conditions of public sector health workers.It also comes as Chiwenga has announced a new strategy to restructure the country’s public health system, with development partners hopeful that the sector could be on the cusp of being resuscitated.
Speaking after touring the Victoria Falls Covid-19 isolation center last weekend, Chiwenga said the government was looking into the health workers’ working conditions in a bid to return the sector to normalcy.“The government is currently looking into health personnel’s working conditions and you are going to receive an increment very soon. “I will not tell you the percentage increase that you will get, but negotiations and consultations over this matter are currently underway.“In the meantime, you must keep up the good work that you have been doing,” Chiwenga said.
The secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU), Douglas Chikobvu, confirmed that negotiations for a pay rise were underway, under the auspices of the Health Apex Council.“Last week Tuesday, the government came up with a paltry 40 percent increment proposal and risk graded allowances which the Health Apex Council totally rejected.“The 40 percent offer meant that the lowest-paid government worker would be getting around $6 000 to $7 000 per month. “Such a proposal was way too low considering that it falls way below the poverty datum line,” Chikobvu told the Daily News yesterday.“However, a follow-up meeting is going to be held tomorrow (today) to the pave way for fresh negotiations, and I’m sure if the government cares … then it should honestly and truthfully honor our request by awarding us a living wage,” he added. Chikobvu also said the government needed to ensure that health workers were able to access the US$75 coronavirus (Covid-19) allowance in hard currency, instead of being forced to convert this into local currency.“It’s misleading to actually say we are getting US$75 because no bank has made that money easily accessible, and all banks are telling clients to liquidate the money into local currency. “No other facilities have been made available so that workers can enjoy the full value of their money,” he also said.
The secretary-general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Aaron Musara told the Daily News yesterday that salary negotiations were failing to yield the desired results due to the government’s lack of negotiation based on what health workers needed. “There was a meeting with the Ministry of Health representatives last Tuesday for salary negotiations, but the government just came up with a figure and extended the US$75 Covid-19 allowance, saying this is what we have to offer.“We rejected that offer because our members have made it clear that the government should pay us in United States dollars or the local currency equivalent pegged at the prevailing exchange rate.“We will be going back to the negotiating table tomorrow (today), but for the process to work the government needs to listen to what we are asking for and negotiate around that. “In the meantime, doctors are only attending emergency situations because we are incapacitated. We cannot afford to go to work daily,” Musara said.