Nurses working at the national referral hospital the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) said that the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Health is playing the divide-and-rule tactic on them in the roll-out of the covid-19 response initiative through inconsistencies in their salaries.
This, according the Lesotho Nursing Association (LNA) President Rafael Tlali became evident when nurses hired specially to work on the Covid-19 response plan started getting more in remuneration than everyday nurses.
He indicated that they were surprised to learn that when it comes to other issues, the Government and the Hospital Management can sit and negotiate amicably.
“We have been protesting about our salaries and asking for a salary restructuring, since 2012 but there has to date, not been any progress. In fact, the ministry and the hospital management frustrate us by sending us from pillar to post. When we try to find out from the management of the Hospital what is being done, because according to our contracts, the hospital is our employer they referrer us to the ministry who in turn do likewise,” he said.
“An indication that the ministry and hospital management collaborate in many other issues, the hospital now has a covid-19 section where patients of covid-19 are being treated by a specialized consignment of nurses. However, to our surprise, some of the everyday nurses were moved to the covid-19 section to work with those hired for covid-19 yet those are paid more than them. That makes us to say our employer is causing a clash between us because it is not really nice to see someone less qualified and experienced than you are earning more” he said.
The president indicated that the nurses want the restructuring of their salaries because they feel they are being underpaid.
“The nurses that work for QMMH earn half of what the nurses who work for government hospitals, while they do the same work or even more than that of government hospitals. So we have decided to wait outside the premises because we cannot say are striking, we just need answers so as long as there are none, we will keep coming and waiting outside the premises taking everything slowly,” he said.
“We had a meeting today with the management of the hospital where we were told that we can get answers from the ministry. Until now no one from the ministry has come to address us,” he said.
The Public Relations Officer of QMMH Mothepane Thahane reiterated the claims by LNA President saying that it was in the rights of the nurses to fight for their rights, since the last time a salary restructuring was made around 2012/ 2013. She indicated that the matter has taken too long sating that the hospital its self would like to see this issue be dealt with because it has taken a long time.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister of Health Nto Moakhi indicated that, he will not go much into the details of the concerns of the nurses because the matter is before court.
“We have met with stakeholders including the management of Tšepong trying to come with a solution for this matter but no decision was reached yet,” he said.