Zambia Union Nurses Organisation in Western Province has described Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda’s description of nurses as criminals as shameful because the action to continue with the strike was as a result of fake promises made by his office.
ZUNO Western Province organising secretary, Ronald Solami reminded Shamenda that his fake promises led to the dismissal of the nurses from the public service.
Solami said that the nurses merely responded to Shamenda’s failed promises to deal with their grievances among them, the demand for improved conditions of service and addressing the anomalies in salaries.
He said government’s decision to dismiss the nurses had increased pressure on the already understaffed and stressed health sector.
“We cannot be comfortable with our friends being fired because the Minister failed to deliver on his promises. Mind you he promised that he would put his head on the chopping board to ensure that the nurses got what they were bargaining for.
We are working under a lot of stress as a result of being overburdened. Our friends have been fired and they are living in the cold because they believed his (Shamenda) blackmail which he later turned round against them,” he said.
He was responding to recent media comments where Shamenda who is also a unionist, described the dismissed nurses as ‘criminals’.
Last week government announced the final dismissal of the health workers despite several calls to reinstate the nurses as the move had increased pressure on the already stressed health sector.
And Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) president Andrew Ntewewe said the move to fire the nurses was not done in national interest as this had increased pressure on the existing staff in health sector.
Ntewewe said it was unacceptable that the government could allow so much pain and anguish on innocent people just because a mistake was made by a few individuals.
“It is not true that lives have not been lost as a result of the action to fire those nurses, because the fact is that theatres were shut down and some services temporarily withdrawn, meaning people had nowhere to receive the service from.
In fact, this whole decision to fire the nurses does not help us as a nation, it makes us even poorer than we currently are,” he said.
Over 500 nurses countrywide were fired after the November 2013 strike action that had affected all the major hospitals’ operations including the closure of theatres and other services at the country’s largest health referral hospital, the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).