Striking Zambian health workers say
they want President Rupiah Banda's personal intervention to give assurance that
all of their demands would be met.
Health workers and teachers in some parts of
Zambia have been on strike for some time now demanding salary raise and
improved working conditions.
But Zambian Information Minister Ronnie
Shikapwasha says the government has already offered the workers a 15 percent
Ozias Kaundula Banda, president of the Zambia National
Union of Health and Allied Workers told VOA the 15
percent salary increase does not come close to meeting the workers' demands.
the negotiations have actually taken too much time; two they are also crying
for the housing allowance to be actually something reasonable to be given to
them; three the nurses are also crying for their uniform allowance to be
increased," he said.
said the health workers are also demanding risk and duty allowances.
said the health workers do not feel comfortable going on strike because their
core duty is to save lives.
see the most painful thing is that we take care of lives and when you see
people dying in the hospital, you don't feel good. You see the core business is
the patient," he said.
said the workers sometimes feel betrayed because on the one hand the government
claimed it does not have the money to meet all of the workers' demands. Yet on
the other hand he said civil servants in the health ministry are stealing
billions of kwacha.
know what angers the workers so much is the issue of this money that is being
stolen by some people within the ministry. If we demand for this we are not
being given because there is no money. And yet billions are being stolen,"
said the striking health workers want President Rupiah Banda's personal
we need now, we need the president to give hope to everyone and to re-assure
the nation that things are actually being done because when the president says
something everybody will get back to work," Banda said.
said the negotiations have stalled to the point that the workers do not seem to
have faith in their own negotiators.
Information Minister Ronnie Shikapwasha said the government has bent over
backward in order to meet the workers' demands.
had been going on throughout the week and last week, and today the government
finally agreed to offer a 15 percent salary increase across the board, he said.
said striking teachers were expected to sign the new agreement by Thursday,
followed by other union members on Friday.
Thereafter, he said negotiations would
resume on the workers' other demand which is housing allowance.