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Rumphi hospital staff down tools

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Support staff at Rumphi District Hospital Wednesday held a sit-in in protest against the government’s decision to leave some workers out of the list of those receiving risk allowances amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

A circular signed by Secretary of Health Dan Namarika indicates that the allowances will not trickle down to support staff such as security guards, incinerators attendants and ground labourers.

But yesterday, the support staff notified Rumphi District Commissioner (DC) of their decision marking the start of the industrial action.

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Chairperson of the support staff, Dickson Nyirenda, said it was unfair and unjust for the council to recommend only a few selected people to benefit from risk allowances despite that all workers are prone to contracting the coronavirus in the line of duty.

He said the members of staff will continue with the sit-in until all of them are included on the list.

“Our argument is that if these people are not at risk of contracting the virus, then they must not be working at the hospital. Let the hospital send these people to their homes so that they protect themselves from the virus as government ordered. But they are here because the facility knows that the hospital without them cannot operate well,” Nyirenda said.

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But Rumphi District Hospital Public Relations Officer, Bwanalori Mwamlima, said the facility was not formally communicated to about the development.

“We have just observed that some people went to the DC to present their grievances. They did not alert the hospital’s management on their decision and we are also going to hear from the DC because he is our boss at council level,” Mwamlima said.

Rumphi DC Fred Movete said the council clarified the matter to the concerned party as government had communicated that risk allowances are meant only for those that come in direct contact with patients.

The risk allowances which were initially pegged at between K1,000 and K1,800 have been hiked to between K20,000 to K60,000.

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