ZAMBIA UNION OF NURSES ORGANISATION (ZUNO), HEALTH WORKERS UNION OF ZAMBIA (HWUZ), CIVIL SERVANTS AND ALLIED WORKERS OF ZAMBIA (CSAWUZ) AND ZAMBIA NATIONAL UNION OF HEALTH AND ALLIED WORKERS UNION OF ZAMBIA (ZNUHAW)
Joint Press Statement on government’s final dismissal of nurses, midwives and paramedics on Friday 14th February, 2014 at ZUNO Head Office
Statement read by ZUNO General Secretary, Liseli Sitali
Good morning ladies and gentlemen.
We are humbled that you could make it to our short Press Briefing where, through you, we would like to inform our members (who are the nurses, midwives and paramedical personnel) and the general public about the way forward after our members’ final dismissal of our members.
We would also like to tackle some of the issues that led to the strike and how the whole process spiralled out of control leading us to the status quo.
Firstly, we would like to express our disappointment at the government’s decision to finally dismiss our members after all our efforts to dialogue with them and having met them several times to discuss this matter in the hope that our members could be reinstated in their public service employment.
It is not a secret that as unions we wrote a letter of apology to His Excellency the republican President Mr Michael Chilufya Sata to plead for the plight our members. And after the letter of apology we expected that our President would exercise his prerogative to forgive and reinstate the nurses, midwives and paramedics into their public service jobs.
Secondly, we wish to condemn in the strongest terms sentiments attributed to Honourable Fackon Shamenda, our Minister of Labour and Social Justice, in the Daily Nation newspaper of yesterday, Thursday 13th February, 2014, in the story entitled “Dismissed Nurses Criminals – Shamenda”.
It is very unfortunate that our Minister, who is a seasoned trade unionist, could utter such damaging comments especially now when our members have been condemned to a life of uncertainty and possible poverty after being dismissed.
It is also shameful that our Minister can deliberately choose to mislead the nation by saying that the unions representing the affected nurses, midwives and paramedics did not make any efforts to meet with him to discuss the situation.
It is unfortunate thatMr Shamenda has decided to be very economical with the truth and it is saddening that our honourable Minister seems to make this trend as his trademark.
Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to put it on record that although our members have faced the brunt of losing their jobs for demanding better conditions of service, the strike action would not have gone on if his honourable Minister Mr Shamenda did not promise that he was going to sort out their demands outside the Collective Agreement that was signed between government and the health sector unions.
It was Mr Shamenda who, knowingly that nothing would be given outside the collective agreement, falsely assured our members that he would personally see to it that their demands were met.
He even said that he was going to put his head on the chopping board to ensure that our striking members got what they were demanding for, but after realising that the Minister was just playing politics, our members felt cheated and hence continued with the strike.
But today the same man who promised to be their saviour has U-turned and is always condemning our members for taking him to task for the promises that he himself made.
And lately, Mr Shamenda, whose role in Labour matters is to be the mediator between two disagreeing parties (employees and employers), has been issuing disrespectful comments about our members calling them prostitutes and criminals, forgetting that he is the main cause of the strike for deliberately giving false hope to our members by untruthfully promising them things he knew he would not deliver.
We would like to advice Mr Shamenda to stop misleading the nation with his utterances and his calculated half truths. To tell the nation that the unions representing the nurses, midwives and paramedics did not meet him to discuss the strike action is not true.
We would also like to advise Mr Shamenda that he should desist from attacking our members and calling them derogatory names in public because that is unbecoming of a man of his standing in society and in the Labour movement.
If honourable Shamenda has any issues with our members, let him talk to us their representatives and not our members because that is not his mandate. It is not helping anyone by him always trashing our members in the press. If he has nothing to say its better he just remains quite than trying to come out as the champion when he is the culprit.
Lastly, Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to still appeal to our republican President Mr Michael Sata to reinstate our members taking into account the fact that the nurses and midwives had apologised and are now remorseful.
It is in the best interest of the nation to have the nurses and midwives back into their jobs because dismissing them will only compound the suffering the patients. It is clear by now that there is no justified reason or cause not to reinstate them because we have already seen the desperation in our health institution the last two months that the nurses were at home.
We would like to earnestly appeal to our President to listen to his conscious.
Thank you very much.