In the midst of a brewing coronavirus storm the government and nurses are engaged in an acrimonious battle of salaries and Protective Equipment (PPE). The country now has 4 395 recorded cases with 97 people having already died from the disease. There has been an acceleration in local infections and deaths in recent months. The situation is not helped by the fact that hospitals and clinics continue to be short-staffed due to the strike.

Now the government, instead of caving in, has struck a belligerent tone by striking nurses off the register under what they say is a “no-work no pay scheme”.

The striking nurses didn’t receive their July salaries and it’s because they were removed from the payroll by the Health Services Board on a no-work-no-pay basis.

HSB deputy director public relations, Ms Tryfine Rachael Dzvukutu 

The nurses union said that nurses were surprised that they did not receive any salaries in June. According to the union the nurses are not on strike but simply cannot report for duty as they don’t have adequate money to continue to come to work.

Following the May salary, we declared incapacitation in June and spontaneously, nurses just reacted because they were expecting a salary increase and didn’t report for work. They were surprised in July when they received no salary, the 50 percent salary increase and even the US$75 allowances which were received by all the civil servants.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Mr Enock Dongo

The hardening of stance was to be expected after certain government officials called for it and because the new Health Minister has always favoured such stances in the past. He once fired all junior doctors who went on strike last year. Eventually the government caved and gave in to the doctor’s demands. Coincidentally, senior doctors are also on strike.