Zambia Reports (Lusaka)

Zambia: Fired UTH Nurses Still On Payroll

Some nurses at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), who were sacked last month, have not been removed from the wage bill after it was realised that they drew salaries for December 2013.

This is an anomaly because civil servants who lose employment are expected to be struck off the wage bill with immediate effect.

The UTH spokesperson Mwanya Mulenga could neither confirm nor deny the matter because he had not verified the details with accounting staff. Mulenga said he would verify the matter and provide details later.

However, some nurses who have benefitted from the anomaly said they received salaries from the government after being sacking last month.

"My salary account has been debited with money from the government, which is my salary. I confirm that I have received my salary although I was dismissed. This is fine with me because no one would return such money. It is a blessing for me and a good Christmas gift. There are other nurses who have received their salaries just like me. We know it is an anomaly but this is what happens when there is no order in the manner things are done in the government system," a nurse who opted for anonymity said.

Another nurse Yuyi Matakala said she received her salary on 20th December 2013. She said in an interview that some nurses received money in their salary accounts while others did not.

She said the action showed that there were disparities in the way the government was handling the plight of the nurses.

"We have actually been vindicated by what has happened. Our dismissal from work was because we were demanding for harmonisations of salaries. This was because the trained nurses were receiving the same amount of wages and conditions with maids who are not trained at all. We wanted an increase because the difference between nurses and maids was not there. We have been vindicated because the fact that some of us received salaries even after being dismissed shows how porous the system has become," she said.

Last month, the government fired over 200 nurses at the UTH for participating in a protracted strike action over wage dispute. The nurses wanted the government to harmonise their salaries and increase the wages to K10, 000, but the government responded by sacking the health workers.

Apart from the UTH, the government sacked nurses and other health workers such as laboratory technicians, pharmacists and maids from many hospitals across the country.

Health Minister Joseph Kasonde said the decision to dismiss nurses was final and would not be rescinded. He said nurses were essential employees who must not go on strike because their services were needed during emergency times to save lives.

He said the government would recruit new nurses who are graduating from nursing colleges across Zambia.

The sacking of nurses has forced the UTH to close some operating theatres, while wards and other facilities were being serviced by trainee nurses.

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