More than 1 000 nurses removed from the monthly pay sheets for not working standard hours are being reinstated after apologising to the Government and reverting to normal duty shifts.
Last month, the Health Services Board (HSB) removed 1 032 nurses from its pay sheets after they insisted on not working or only working sharply reduced hours.
They have, however, shown contrition and inundated the Government with letters of apology.
In their letters, they vowed to comply with the prescribed shifts, with the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) confirming last week that they had reverted to standard rosters.
Authorities agreed to forgive the repentant ones and, yesterday, HSB chair Dr Paulinas Sikhosana confirmed that the process of returning nurses to the payroll had started with some having been already reinstated.
“We have started the process and some are now on the pay sheets,” he said. “I am not sure about the numbers as yet, but those who apologised earlier like the ones at Sally Mugabe Central Hospital have been reinstated.”
A total of 504 Sally Mugabe Central Hospital nurses, 258 at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and 229 at United Bulawayo Hospitals have formally apologised.
Of the 1 032 struck off the pay sheets by the HSB, only 41 are yet to formally express regret for defying a legal directive for them to resume normal shifts.
Of the 41 who are yet to officially ask for pardon, a few are union leaders and investigations show that some of them have found employment elsewhere, but have yet to formally resign from Government employ and continued drawing salaries from two employers.
Last week, Zina president Mr Enock Dongo said the association had told their members to cancel the “flexi-hours” regime and start reporting 40 hours a week in compliance with the Government directive.
“We do not want confrontation with Government,” he said. “We are now working 40 hours a week like what was directed by Government. We are giving dialogue a chance and we want genuine dialogue with Government, so we are waiting for them to address our concerns while we are working normal duty roasters.”
Mr Dongo said the Zina leadership had a strong feeling that what they were saying in meetings with Government representatives was not being reported correctly to the country’s leadership.
He said they were willing to engage Health and Child Care Minister Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, his deputy Dr John Mangwiro, and Permanent Secretary Dr Jasper Chimedza, to have their concerns addressed.
Acting Health and Child Care Minister Professor Amon Murwira confirmed the resumption of normal rosters by nurses.
“We are taking their issue further and what I can say is that they can expect positive feedback,” he said in an interview. “The nurses who were initially not reporting for duty wrote letters to us apologising.
“The nurses who wrote the letters say they do not have anything to do with the conflict that has been going on. I am happy that they are working and what we want is to improve the country’s health system.”
Government has made it clear that it will pay the maximum possible to civil servants, but that the total is guided by the revenue inflows from taxes and under no circumstances will the Government borrow or print money to meet monthly bills.
VP Chiwenga is restructuring the health sector and is pushing for a sustainable funding model, far greater effectiveness, and a new work ethic for staff.
Officials in the Ministry of Health and Child Care say emphasis is now on improving the provision of drugs, effective service delivery in hospitals, as well as improving the conditions of healthcare workers from remuneration to conducive ambience at the workplace.