The strike that has paralysed the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) and other health institutions in Lusaka and other parts of the country entered day three yesterday with nurses and midwives vowing not to go back for work until government reviewed the newly increased salaries.
And the strike has spread to radiographers and clinical officers who yesterday joined the work stoppage pressing government to consider reviewing the disparities of salaries between professionals and non professional workers.
The nurses and midwives are accusing the Patriotic Front government of lack of respect and value for education and professionals by awarding non professionals hefty salary increments.
The nurses’ midwives say that the standoff between the health workers and government has been created by lack of sincerity in the manner government had managed salary increments which had seen professional workers such as nurses, radiographers, pharmacists and clinical officers receive a miserable increase of about four percent.
“How can a cleaner get K2900 when a nurse is getting K3100? What value has the PF government put on education? Are they saying that cleaners who are non professionals can be getting higher salaries like us? That is nonsense; we shall not stop the strike until we get what we want,” said one of the nurses.
And check at UTH children wings and the main hospital yesterday found that student nurses were the ones manning the wards with the help of some senior nurses.
Those found working at the UTH children wing told the Daily Nation that student nurses were made to work long hours.
Senior nurses with additional responsibilities were found working awkward hours to ensure that patients are attended to.
The nurses who went on strike on Wednesday are demanding among other things, government’s commitment in reviewing the newly increased salaries which they have since described as an insult to the professional body.
At Kalingalinga Clinic nurses were found sunbathing and plating hair, while patients were left unattended to.
The nurses were also asking patients who were on long queues to go back home or seek medical attention elsewhere as they were not working.
The nurses complained against the PF government which they said it had betrayed their trust over salaries and other conditions of service.
“People who are working are sisters’ Incharge of clinics, wards and sections. For example here at the UTH, all nurses are not working they have gone on strike, it is unfortunate that these people you have found helping us are all students. Some are in first year while some are in second and final years of their training. We are overwhelmed here and we hope that government will resolve this problem soon,” said one of the sisters’ Incharge.
And patients were yesterday asked to go and buy medicine elsewhere as the pharmacy at the UTH main and children wing was closed.
Radiographers also refused to attend to patients who had gone for scanning as they joined the strike pressing for better salaries.