Health secretary Jasper Chimedza on October 19 directed provincial medical directors to resume normal working hours for all nurses, saying the flexi working hours were creating artificial nurse shortages.
But Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo, in a letter to Chimedza dated October 21, objected to the order, accusing the permanent secretary of making unilateral decisions.
"The decision to implement the flexible working hour system is a product of agreement within the HSBNP [Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel]. It was not given unilaterally by the government nor did the employees adopt it on their own accord," Dongo said."With this in mind, your decision to unilaterally remove a system which you found in place and, in any event, was reached by agreement, is irregular and certainly not in good faith."
He added that the ministry's circular ran contrary to the other communication they received on May 11, 2020, where it was put clearly that the flexible hour system would remain in place because it reduced exposure to COVID-19.
He said the nurses, therefore, found it unfortunate that he proceeded to remove the flexible hour system when the risk of exposure was still quite high owing to poor supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).
"Tied to the above, the flexi-hour system did not only address issues to do with PPE but also addressed issues of incapacity," Dongo told Chimedza.
"When you go to the origins of adopting this system, the reason was that regular working hours were becoming expensive to maintain on the salaries nurses were getting."
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