Nurses who were engaged by the Ministry of Health to work on curbing the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic have complained that their engagement has not been given the priority it deserves as they have never been paid since working at the ministry.
Now the nurses have come out guns-blazing decrying non-payment of salaries for the past four months arguing that the ministry was giving them a hogwash of excuses for the obvious failure.
As a result, the nurses from almost all districts of the country, marched to the ministry headquarters in the capital Maseru in a move to demand answers to their plight in which they have been surfing since last year.
Speaking on behalf of the nurses converged at the ministry premises yesterday, Majara Jubilee from the Leribe district, indicated that when they were initially engaged, they were commissioned to work in the counter covid-19 unit as contract nurses who were eventually absorbed into the ministryâ€™s permanent workforce and have been working, apparently, for free ever since.
â€œWe have come together to get answers about our money which stands pending since last September. We have not been paid since we got engaged hence our lives are basically at a stand-still, we canâ€™t buy food, pay rent or transport to the very workplace,â€ he protested.
He said what makes the situation even more complex is fact that most of them have been posted to districts that are not their home towns hence are forced to bear rent and transportation costs in order to maintain job-life. Additionally, Jubilee pointed out, however, that the ministry seems to be pulling a divide-and-rule ploy on them as some have been paid while others havenâ€™t.
â€œWe have learned that there are some of us who were already paid but they do not even make a quarter of us. We do not have a clear explanation from the ministry of what is really happening. What is even worse is that our District Health Management Team (DHMT) do not have explanation, that is why we have chosen to incur the expense of coming to the headquarters,â€ he said.
On the same note, Lesaoana Rafaele also from Leribe said for the past four months they have been trying to get explanation from the Ministry and now they are not looking out for explanation but they demand to be paid.
â€œFor the past months our representatives met with the Director Human Resources and they were given the explanation that they Ministry has been struggling feed our names into the system because they are using a new one. The other reason given to us was that, itâ€™s like our employment in the ministry lacks transparency and we were surprised because we were called and told to report for work at different districts that we are placed in and then followed our signing of contracts,â€ he said.
The nurses say the situation has inconvenienced them a lot as most even gave-up employment at their previous workplaces with understanding that they were getting permanent government employment.
Meanwhile, speaking on behalf of the ministry, Public Relations Officer (PRO) â€˜Mateboho Mosebekoa, confirmed that the ministry was aware of the grievances by the over 250 nurses who were engaged by the ministry last year, although she pointed out that the problem was beyond their control.
â€œThe Director Human Resources indicated that the office is already working towards resolving the problem. The director indicated that the payments delayed because of the newly introduced system used to pay civil servants which has number a lot of complications,â€ she said. Mosebekoa further said that the problem was not only facing the nurses but that it is a cross-cutting issue which also touches on other civil servants from other ministries.