Epworth healthcare workers up-in-arms with council over paltry US$8 monthly salary

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HEALTHCARE workers in Epworth have embarked on an industrial action to force the Local Board to revise upwards their salaries and wages, Zim Morning Post has learnt.

The workers demanded to see council chairperson Batanai Masunda after efforts at collective bargaining with Epworth board secretary Wilton Mhanda failed to yield the requisite results.

Reached for comment, Masunda said he was only informed of the industrial action on Wednesday.

“I was not aware of the problem at hand. I was just informed about it this morning,” Masunda said.

He said he was trying to get the issue addressed so that employees get back to work.

“I can’t talk to you at the moment. We have an emergency. My top priority is to get the employees back to work,” Masunda said.

The protesting workers, however, told Zim Morning Post that the Epworth board secretary, Mhanda, was stalling salary negotiations and on several occasions did not send the employees’ grievances to a full council meeting.

“We are risking our lives during this COVID-19 pandemic but are still being paid slave wages,” said an employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“For several months, we have tried to engage the town secretary, Mhanda, to take our issue to the chairperson, Masunda, but it looks like Mhanda has been stalling those efforts,” the employee added.

The health workers, among them nurses, midwives, ambulance personnel and lower-level employees said their salaries were far below the poverty datum line.

The employees said the lowest paid worker was getting ZWL700, which is equivalent to about US$8 at the current foreign currency black market rate.

Zimbabwe’s poverty datum line (PDL) increased to $7 426 in April from $6 421 in March, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (Zimstat). 

The financial requirements for a family of five to live a basic comfortable life and not be deemed poor continues to go up while the economy is under a Covid-19 lockdown. 

Meanwhile, management at Epworth Local Board is said to have awarded themselves huge salary increments in June.

The employees also allege that top management was receiving COVID-19 allowances of up to ZWL600 per day.

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