All dismissed nurses are criminals and they don’t deserve to be forgiven says Minister of Labour and Social Security, Fackson Shamenda.
He said the nurses that were dismissed should actually thank government for asking them to re-apply because they thought they were very clever by dancing while lives of many people were being lost.
But Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) president Leonard Hikaumba has described the decision by the government to finally dismiss all nurses who took part in the strike action as a violation of human rights and the worst form of punishment ever.
Shamenda said dismissing the nurses was the best punishment the government could give them because many lives were lost during their strike.
Shamenda said he also blamed the Unions representing the nurses because they have never been to his office to negotiate for their nurses.
Shamenda further said the nurses should take government to court if they wanted adding that the law was clear on essential workers.
“The law does not allow essential workers to strike for more than 24hours but the nurses at UTH had even gone beyond 10 days,” he said.
“ZCTU is a bad negotiator because they have been negotiating through newspapers and at no time did they come to my office for negotiation in this matter,” he said.
He said ZCTU was negotiating through the media in order to excite people for nothing and that they could not talk to the government through the media.
“The ministry of labour is a custodian of collective agreement bargaining and we register Unions who represent workers,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hikaumba said it was wrong for the government to have finally dismissed the nurses because they had apologized for their actions.
He said it was also against the industrial relations and employment act which does not allow government to dismiss the nurses for demonstrating for less than 10 days.
Hikaumba said the nurses at UTH had only gone on strike for 7days and the 8th day ZCTU asked them to go back to work of which they did.
And when asked whether he would advise the nurses to take the matter to court, Hikaumba said the nurses should not take the government to court yet because it was too early.
“The nurses should only take the government to court if all the avenues of communication between the government and the unions completely fail,” he said.
Hikaumba said the government may consider reinstating the nurses because they have asked them to re-apply.
And a Midwife who received his final dismissal letter on Friday last week said the government had failed them because they had tried all the avenues to reach at an agreement with government but PF could not listen.
He said he was disappointed with the minister of Labour for failing to fulfil his promises made to the nurses.
“Mr. Shamenda came to address us during the strike and promised to come to our aid but after the promise he was nowhere to be seen, the next thing we saw was him refusing having promised us,” he said.
And a source within UTH confirmed with Daily Nation that on Friday 150 nurses had been served with final dismissal letters and other have been receiving their final letters this week.
“The letters are being dispatched in groups so we have been told that others who have not received their letters yet will receive them in the next group,” he said
The nurses have been receiving two final dismissal letters from the minister of health Dr. Joseph Kasonde and another from UTH managing director Dr. Lackson Kasonka.
The two letters indicated that it was a directive from the head of state to have the nurses finally dismissed.