On Monday in Zimbabwe, thousands of nurses went on strike, demanding better salaries. The strike came hot on the heels of the country's doctors returning from their own weeks-long strike, which took place for similar reasons. With no nurses standing by to assist doctors or to see patients, hospitals in the African country have been forced to turn away people looking for care. Instead of negotiating with the nurses or passing legislation that would send them back to work, Zimbabwe's vice-president, Constantino Chiwenga, apparently decided to fire them all.
Because doing that always calms things down in a country that's facing growing labor unrest.
According to The Guardian, vice-president Chiwenga believes that the strike actions undertaken by the country's doctors and nursing staff are politically motivated and stated that his "…Government has decided in the interest of patients and of saving lives to discharge all the striking nurses with immediate effect." Yep – ensuring that healthcare professions are never allowed to return to their jobs of you know, saving lives, is definitely gonna be in the best interest of any patients they might have treated.
Chiwenga called the strike "deplorable and reprehensible," citing the fact that the government had released £12m to boost their pay and allowances. There's no word, however, on how much this amount would increase the state of each nurse's wages, or when the money would actually come into use.
But don't worry Zimbabwe, there's good news! The government plans on hiring any unemployed or retired nurses that it can find to fill in the massive hole that your government just created in your country's healthcare system. So, it's totally cool.
Chiwenga comes by his terrible ideas honestly enough. Up until November, he wasn't a politician, he was a career military officer who only came into political office after helping to force the country's long-time President, Robert Mugabe, out of office, this past November.
It'll be interesting to see how Chiwenga's strong-armed bullshit plays out: in recent days, the country's teachers have also threatened to walk if they're not treated to an increase in pay.
As for the ousted nurses, their union has "noted" Chiwenga blathering, but has opted to continue with their strike action.
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