Zimbabwe government fires striking nurses

HARARE (Xinhua) -- The Zimbabwe government on Tuesday fired all striking nurses at public hospitals after they turned down a government offer of 17.1 million U.S. dollars to improve their pay.

The government said in a statement that it regards the industrial action as politically motivated, and that it would immediately employ new nurses and recall those who retired from the service to replace the sacked health personnel.

“Following the decision by government yesterday (Monday) to accede to the demands made by the striking nurses, government regrets to note that the industrial action in this essential service sector has persisted.

“What makes the whole action both deplorable and reprehensible is the fact that as agreed yesterday (Monday) government today (Tuesday) released and transferred a sum of 17.1 million (U.S. dollars) into the account of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for payment to the striking nurses.

“While this demonstrated good faith from the government …which has been effected against demonstrable economic challenges facing our nation, (it) has not, quite surprisingly, persuaded the nurses to go back to their work stations in the interest of saving lives and helping patients placed under their care.

“Government now regards this lack of remorse as politically motivated and thus as going beyond conditions of service and worker welfare. Accordingly, government has decided… to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect,” the statement said.

The number of nurses fired could not be immediately established. Nurses at major public hospitals countrywide, including in the capital Harare and second city of Bulawayo, are on strike.

The strike by the nurses over better pay and working conditions was the second this year and followed a month-long strike by doctors last month.

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