Harare (AFP) – Thousands of Zimbabwean nurses returned to work on Monday after ending a strike, their union said, adding that fresh negotiations were expected in their stand-off with the government.
Some 15,000 nurses fighting for better work conditions walked out of public hospitals a week ago.
They were rapidly sacked in a hardline response from the government as it tries to prevent the spread of industrial action in the public sector.
“Nurses have gone back to work today although their grievances still stand,” Enoch Dongo, spokesman for the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, told AFP.
“Some were asked to first fill in dismissal forms and then sign forms for resumption of duty. We haven’t heard of any who have been turned back.”
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who issued the mass sackings accused the nurses of being “politically motivated.”
At Parirenyatwa, the largest state hospital in the capital, nurses were back at work with long queues from a backlog of patients.
The nurses are demanding better wages and complaining about lack of basics in government hospitals, including drugs and equipment.
The strike came shortly after a similar protest by junior doctors demanding a raise in allowances, while teachers are also threatening to strike.
After Robert Mugabe’s 37-year rule, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to revive the moribund economy and attract foreign investment to fund better public services.