News

Health workers strike in Zimbabwe

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7066.1165a (Published 09 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1165

Junior doctors in Zimbabwe have returned to work after being threatened with dismissal by the government. They had been on strike in protest about their working conditions. Hundreds of nurses, however, who are still on strike, have been dismissed and have asked their association to lobby for severance packages.

The strikes have mainly affected the larger central hospitals of Harare and Bulawayo, where senior staff and the army have had to fill in for striking workers. Only very ill people are being admitted to these hospitals, and wards are much emptier than usual, according to doctors in Harare.

The strike seems to be part of a general Zimbabwean civil service malaise, though it attracted less sympathy and fewer strikers than the last one several weeks ago. Among the demands the strikers have made are changes to their working conditions and night shift allowances.

The earlier strike, led by Zimbabwe's nurses and which included most of the civil service, followed President Robert Mugabe's extravagant wedding celebration, which contributed to the general dissatisfaction among badly paid civil servants. At the end of that strike junior doctors and nurses returned to work with the promise that their salaries would be raised by around 20%.

But, according to doctors in the public health system who did not want to be identified, many were dissatisfied when their pay cheques arrived. The purchase of a helicopter by President Mugabe only added to the perception that, while the government was reluctant to spend money on its civil service, it was spending what little money it had particularly thoughtlessly.

The nurses once again led the walk out, followed by the junior doctors—but nobody else. An irritated government issued an ultimatum that strikers would be fired and “expatriates” brought in to do their work. While this caused angry comment from Zimbabwe's human rights group, the Foundation for Democracy, junior doctors quietly returned to work.

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

The nurses however, who have faced a serious erosion in both their earnings and esteem in the public's eyes since independence, remained on strike, and were accordingly dismissed. Department of Health doctors believe that the strikers will eventually be rehired but that the issue will simmer on.—PAT SIDLEY, medical journalist, Johannesburg

Figure2

An antiboxing film is to run in cinemas around Britain over the next two months. The film is the latest move in the BMA's campaign for a total ban on boxing. The black and white film shows silhouetted conkers smashing into one another with the sound of a boxing match in the background. (See p 1168.)

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