Zimbabwean nurses unions announced on Thursday that their members would go on strike next week to protest low wages and working conditions, the second such strike since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Our members will not be able to turn up for duty starting on Monday June 20,” Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union president Robert Chiduku said in a letter addressed to the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
The government and health workers are at odds over pay as inflation in Zimbabwe reached 131.7 percent in May, a bleak echo of the hyperinflation that wiped out finances from citizens’ savings a decade ago.
During the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, the previous strike forced hospitals to turn away patients. The government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to unions, nurses in Zimbabwe are paid 30,000 Zimbabwe dollars ($79.37) per month.
Chiduku said the union had “combined forces with our sister unions. The mood is people are fed up. Our salaries are pathetic”, Chiduku told newsmen.
Enock Dongo, president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA), said he was mobilizing members for the strike but needed to hear back from them before declaring that they would participate.
A strike would further devastate a health-care system that is already understaffed due to nurses leaving to work in the West.
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