Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government has honoured its commitment to pay health workers their dues amounting to at least $12 million, a majority of which emanated from improper grading since 2010. This is part of the $17 million availed by Government last month to quell doctors' and nurses' strikes.
Government has also recently-introduced stand-by allowance for nurses working in rural healthcare facilities. The allowances are $360 and a night duty allowance of $360 a month for all other nurses, all of which have been backdated to April 2018.
The standby allowance was recently reviewed upwards from $70 a month.
This latest development will see some nurses going home with up to $6 000 this month.
The least-paid nurse will also be earning about $900, up from the previous $600 a month.
Although the bulk of health workers who were placed in these lower grades were nurses, 19 other disciplines within the health sector ranging from audit and accounting, records and information, pharmacy and doctors were also affected.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZiNA) organising secretary Mr Edwick Nhema confirmed the latest payments and hailed Government for honouring its promise.
"This is the reason why we have been going on strikes year-in and year-out. Nurses were placed in wrong grades since 2010 and we have been fighting for this anomaly to be corrected since then.
"We have also been fighting for upward review of nigh duty allowances and standby allowances for our members working in rural areas but to no avail," said Mr Nhema.
He said through collective bargaining processes, they managed to prove that most nurses were indeed two grades lower than their actual grades, resulting in Government agreeing to pay them their dues backdated to 2010.
"We are happy that Government has honoured its promise to pay what has been owed to us and in the same vain recognising the need to pay nurses working in rural areas. Most nurses have now been placed in their correct grades," said Mr Nhema.
He said as of yesterday, most of their members who were wrongly graded had received their backdated dues in addition to the standby and night duty allowances.
"We have a few members who have not received their dues and we will follow up with the employer but majority of our members have been paid," he said.
Chairman of the Health Apex Mr Panganai Chivese however, professed ignorance on the corrected grades saying he is yet to get feedback from all member associations.
"We are not yet sure who got what now, as I am yet to get feedback from the various associations," said Mr Chivese.
Most of the nurses interviewed expressed joy over the developments commending Government for honouring its promise.
"We did not believe them (Government) when they said they will pay us, we thought they were just buying time, but yesterday I got the shock of my life when I received a payslip with over $5 000," said one of the nurses from Harare who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Although most nurses were all smiles to the bank, others expressed disgruntlement on how the grades were corrected, which seem to have equalled primary care nurses (PCNs) to registered general nurses (RGNs).
"It seems the system recognise years in experience compared to qualifications which has seen PCNs rewarded more than RGNs," she said.