The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has made a passionate appeal to government to consider reinstating all the 500 nurses that were fired last year under the agreed general amnesty rather than using discriminate criteria for recalling the health workers.
ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba said it was disappointing that Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda had announced that government would not pardon all the nurses who were dismissed because some of the fired nurses were what he termed “bad eggs”.
Hikaumba said the trade unions and government in their dialogue had reached a consensus that there should be a general amnesty for all the fired nurses because hospitals were understaffed and health workers were being overworked.
He said ZCTU was disappointed that after making progress on the calls for the reinstatement of the fired nurses, government had again gone back to its antagonistic position of selectively pardoning the health workers.
“We wanted to put this matter of the fired nurses behind us. We had agreed that there should be a general amnesty for all the nurses but we are now hearing that it is not all the nurses who will be pardoned and recalled.
“If Shamenda is saying some of the nurses are criminals, we are wondering why they are not being investigated by police. Some of the issues that caused the strike could have been resolved after reinstating the nurses,” Shamenda said.
Hikaumba said the unions were not expecting government to change its position on the recalling of all the fired nurses.
He said if government was claiming that some of the dismissed nurses were criminals, it was important that investigations be launched to find out what crimes they committed.
He said the situation in hospitals and other medical facilities was still pathetic because there was inadequate staff as government had decided to dismiss more than 500 nurses for going on strike for demanding improved conditions of services.
He said the labour movement did not understand why there had been so much acrimony and antagonism between government and the unions stating that the best way to resolve differences was to encourage dialogue.
He said government pronouncement that it will not consider every nurse was retrogressive adding that government should clearly spell out the criteria it will employ to recall the nurses.
“We commended government when we agreed that there was going to be a general amnesty for all the nurses who were fired last year. We believed that government was willing to recreate its relationship with the workers so that the differences that led to the industrial unrest could be amicably resolved.
“We are surprised that government has continued with its acrimonious way of dealing with the amnesty and they are now telling us that not every nurse will be pardoned. We did not expect that position from Shamenda. We insist that government should proceed with the general amnesty for the sake of industrial harmony,” Hikaumba said.