By Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S embattled nursing professionals have returned to work but have mounted a court challenge against Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and their employer seeking the reversal of their recent dismissals as well as to block the simultaneous recruitment of their replacements.
Government last week fired an estimated 15,000 striking nurses for turning down its directives for the health workers to return to work, sparking wide condemnation among outraged opponents and citizens.
The government immediately ordered fresh recruitments to fill up the vacancies and has told its beleaguered health staff to join the application queue if they still wanted their jobs back.
With everything pointing to the loss of their jobs, nurses have abruptly called off their job action with business returning to normal in the country’s major hospitals weekend.
But this has not stopped government’s recruitment process from going on.
In apparent bid to seek legal security to their jobs, the health staff has, meanwhile, have filed an urgent High Court chamber application seeking an order restraining and interdicting the Health Services Board, Health Minister David Parirenyatwa and VP Chiwenga from terminating their members’ services and to stop the fresh recruitments.
In an urgent chamber application filed Friday, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association argued that the purported summary dismissal of some striking nurses was not justified, as the conduct of their members was legal.
The health staff argues it was exercising its labour rights through the ill-fated job action.
The Zimbabwe Nurses Association, which is represented by Precious Chakasikwa and Bernard Chidziva of Kantor and Immerman Legal Practitioners, argued that there is no justification by anyone to terminate the nurses’ contracts of employment as they had embarked on a lawful collective job action.
The health practitioners stated that Vice-President Chiwenga threatened the leadership of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association with violence and war during a meeting and ejected the union’s president from the meeting.
In addition, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association wants the respondents to be barred from filling their positions.
In its decision to sack its striking health staff, government accuses nurses of colluding with the opposition to demand pay increases in attempts to torpedo the new administration’s economic recovery efforts ahead of elections this year.