Health unions declare dispute with government

The health sector unions have declared a dispute with the government for failing to reach an agreement over the 2014 negotiation for improved salaries and conditions of service for nurses and other health workers in the public service.

Health Workers Union of Zambia (HWUZ) President Mr Chrispin Sampa said the unions decided to declare a collective dispute following government’s failure to reach an agreement on some of the issues that were under negotiations from November 2013 to date.

“Since the negotiation process has now collapsed and a collective dispute successfully declared by evoking section 75 of the industrial and labour relations Act, Cap. 269 of the laws of Zambia, the health sector unions have to go to another level for remedy,” Mr Sampa said.

He said the unions have since informed all the relevant parties including government through its negotiating team and the labour minister.

Mr Sampa said government’s unilateral declaration of salary moratorium (salary freeze) for 2014 and 2015 and another freeze on net recruitment of health personnel in 2014 which was against their collective bargaining and prompted the unions to declare a collective dispute.

“Misplacement of nursing and health workers with certificates in a lower salary scale F in comparison to their counterparts with similar level of qualifications who are placed in salary scale G  is contrary to the principles guiding the implementation of the newly introduced single spine salary structure,” Mr Sampa added..

Mr Sampa said the unions were demanding for a health personnel shift differential allowance from the current 15 per cent to 17.5 per cent of one’s monthly basic salary.

He said the government commuted night duty allowances from the current 7 per cent to 9 per cent of one’s monthly basic salary and transport allowance from its current 10 per cent to 14 per cent of one’s monthly basic salary.

And Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) President Thom Yungana said this was the first time the public service declared a collective despite to government.

“We want to register our disappointment to government with the recent development, we have in our position a circular that has been released at UTH, acting doctors, paramedics, nursing staff to sign essential service certificates, we look at this request by UTH management on behalf of government as sign intimidation to the workers because this law that is being mentioned it has been in existence since 1997,” Mr Yungana said.

Mr Yungana said he did not understand why government went ahead to implement the law which talked about the essential service certificate after unions for the first time had managed to secure a collective despite.