Health workers who were on strike for the past eight days have called off their work stoppage after government successfully held meetings with the nurses and pharmacists and agreed on the way forward.
Nurses interviewed told the Daily Nation that they agreed to return to work after a three hour long meeting with Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda who promised to look into their demands after they presented a list of complaints at a meeting that was also attended by officials from the Ministry of Health, Community Development and Information respectively.
“We are going back of work tomorrow (Friday) because we have already met with the labour minister and he has promised to look into our demands including the complaints about our salaries.
“We know that UTH was planning to shut down some wards, and it would have been too much on the patients,” the nurses said.
They explained that Shamenda expressed ignorance at the salary scale for the nurses and promised to address their complaints next week after they presented copies of their pay slips.
The health workers however explained that another contributing factor was the situation at the various hospitals as a result of their strike action which resulted in more pain and agony for the patients.
Earlier in the week, Minister of health Joseph Kasonde refused to address the nurses at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) as the major stakeholders and instead issued threats through the media.
“It’s because we were not getting the attention and assurance from government over our demands, but now we are looking forward to seeing improved salary scale, working environment, work on the nurse-patient ration instead of one nurse to four patients, we work with70 patients per shift among other demands.
The nurses protested and downed tools after government awarded only four (4) percent salary increment for the professional health workers while cleaners and general workers received a bounty 200 percent pay rise.
Several civic organisations and the Human Rights Commission condemned the strike action by the health workers but called on government to honour their obligation by increasing their salaries.