HEALTH Minister Joseph Kasonde has directed striking nurses and midwives at University Teaching Hospital (UTH) to immediately resume work and save the lives of Zambians.
The nurses and midwives on Friday staged a work stoppage demanding, among other things, that Government rectifies their salary disparities in the new salaries and conditions of service recently awarded to civil servants.
But Dr Kasonde said he was instructing them to go back to work because their strike was illegal and impacting on the lives of people, apart from jeopardising the ongoing talks with union representatives.
He in Lusaka yesterday said that talks with the union leaders had reached an advanced stage.
“I am not appealing to them but I am directing and instructing them as their employer to resume work with immediate effect,” Dr Kasonde said.The minister said his ministry was working closely with the Ministry of Labour to address the plight of the nurses.
When asked what would happen to the nurses if they defied his directive to resume work, Dr Kasonde said it was not reasonable for any party to enter into threats of consequences.
This is the second strike by the nurses in a space of two months and has gone into the third day.
UTH public relations officer Mwenya Mulenga said in an interview yesterday that a meeting with union officials on Saturday did not yield positive results as the workers demanded to be addressed by Government officials.
Efforts to get a comment from Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation president Thom Yung’ana failed as his mobile phone was off by Press time.
A Times reporter who went to the country’s biggest referral hospital yesterday found doctors, senior nurses, porters, student nurses and defence personnel attending to patients.