Striking Nurses defy Health Minister, as Shamenda says they won’t hold govt at ransom

Nurses at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) have defied the order by Minister of Health Dr. Joseph Kasonde to call-off the strike and instead the strike has now spread to other parts of the country.

And Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda has charged that the Striking Nurses will not be allowed to hold government at ransom.

A check at UTH, the country biggest hospital by Zambian Eye on Tuesday, November 26, 2013 found that the Nurses had not resumed work. Patients were seen unattended while a number of Nurses were seen chatting on the lawn of the Hospital.

A few Students Nurses in some Wards were seen attending to patients.

The Strike has now spread to Levy Mwaanawasa, the second biggest Hospital in Lusaka. There were also reports that Nurses in the country’s Tourist capital, Livingstone have also joined the strike.

The Nurses went on strike last week on Friday due to disparities in their new salaries increased in September 2013 which Shamenda had assured would be resolved. They have defied Dr. Kasonde’s order saying they want to be addressed by Shamenda.

But Shamenda today said the Nurses will not be allowed to hold the PF government at ransom. He said there was no need for him to address them as demanded since government was already addressing the matter.

The Labour Minister told the Government’s second Television channel – TV 2 that the adjustments up-wards of about K2,500 were already reflecting on the latest pay slips for the nurses.  He explained that he was ready to meet the nurses’ representatives at his office, though he vehemently refused to visit UTH to address nurses.

Meanwhile, Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia (EFZ), a Mother Body Religious Grouping has pleaded with striking nurses and midwives  at Lusaka’s UTH to resume work and save innocent patients.

EFZ  executive director Pukuta Mwansa said nurses should look beyond money and consider the plight of innocent patients. “Nurses and midwives at UTH should look at the plight of innocent patients and look beyond money, they should not deprive the rights of patients to medical services,” he said.

Mwansa said much as the nurses and midwives were working in bad conditions, it was imperative that they looked at the plight of the patients.

And Health Workers Union of Zambia secretary general Lewis Mukosha appealed to the striking medical workers to resume work for the sake of innocent patients as government looks into their demand.

The strike by nurses and midwives today(Tuesday26, November 2013) entered day five.