GOVERNMENT has reassured striking nurses and midwives

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GOVERNMENT has reassured striking nurses and midwives at the University Teaching Hospital  (UTH) in Lusaka that their plight is being addressed and has since asked them to call off the strike action.

Health Minister Joseph Kasonde, who made the reassurance, however, observed that the strike action at the highest referral health centre has neither affected critical areas nor resulted in fatalities.

Addressing journalists after he toured the Intensive Care Unit, Ward E11 and the main pharmacy yesterday, Dr Kasonde appealed to the nurses and midwives to resume work.

“I am not pleased with the nurses. I have followed them all the way so that we can discuss and find a solution, but they do not want to come to the room we have arranged to meet.

“We want 100 per cent work here so that we can deliver to our citizens,” he said.

The minister made the remarks after the nurses and midwives refused to meet the minister in one of the hospital’s conference rooms yesterday.

Dr Kasonde, who was accompanied by Information and Broadcasting Services Minister Mwansa Kapeya, assured the striking nurses and other staff that Government would make corrections on the anomalies detected in the recently improved conditions of service for public service workers in which nurses claimed that they were given less than what was expected.

He said the health workers would receive their correct salaries this monthend.

The minister urged the nurses to state the problem and find solutions before downing tools as they played a critical role in the health delivery system.

Dr Kasonde said Government had held talks with relevant authorities over the matter and that the situation was taken care of.

He said Government would continue to respect the law and care for patients and was pleased that the situation was slowly normalising.

Mr Kapeya, who is Chief Government Spokesperson, said Education, Defence and Health were cardinal sectors that did not require any labour stoppage.

He was pleased with some health workers who had realised the importance of their profession by going back to work.

Earlier, United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde

Hichilema told the striking nurses that they were right to demand what belonged to them and that they should not be intimidated by threats from Government ministers.

Mr Hichilema said ministers could take a small percentage from their salaries to address the matter of salary anomalies for the nurses.

But reacting to Mr Hichilema’s remarks, Dr Kasonde said politicians should desist from gaining political mileage from such strikes when people’s lives were at stake.

He advised Mr Hichilema to move away from the realm of speculation, saying Government sets rules on salaries and the salaries were negotiated within those rules.

In Ndola, nurses and midwives, who were on strike, yesterday resumed work.

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