THE government has begun talks with the 265 nurses who were fired last month by Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) authorities.
The nurses’ representative, Manoka Motloung, said the talks which got underway yesterday were aimed exploring ways in which the nurses could be absorbed into the government’s healthcare facilities.
This after the nurses were fired on 12 March 2021 after they went on strike to press the government and QMMH to award them salary increments to match their counterparts in other government and private institutions.
A week after their dismissal, Health Minister Semano Sekatle announced that the government had resolved to cut ties with the Tšepong Consortium which runs QMMH over the alleged unprocedural dismissal of the nurses and other issues. (See story below).
Mr Sekatle also told this publication that the government would rehire the fired nurses as soon as it had taken over the hospital. He also said they would be paid the same salaries as their counterparts in other government institutions.
However, the nurses, who were allegedly not paid after their dismissal, say they cannot wait until the government-QMMH saga is resolved. They have therefore approached government to absorb them into other healthcare facilities in the meantime.
Mr Sekatle yesterday refused to shed light on the issue, saying he will only call a press conference if an agreement is reached with the nurses over their re-deployment.
However, Ms Motloung said they had begun talks with the government. She said although the government had promised to look into their concerns, there was nothing concrete at the moment.
“The government has promised to absorb us into its healthcare system while it works on cutting ties with the Tšepong Consortium,” Ms Motloung said.
“They (government) said they were alive to the fact that it could take long to terminate the Consortium’s contract at QMMH hence our proposal that we be absorbed into the government system in the meantime.
“They said they were working very hard to make sure they absorb us. We are hopeful that this will materialise although there is nothing concrete from them at the moment,” Ms Motloung said.
She said life had become very difficult without salaries after they were fired last month.
“When we were employed our salaries were inadequate but this time things are worse because we don’t have any money after being fired. We couldn’t even afford our basic needs and it has been really frustrating.
“We are now vulnerable and the sad part is that the (QMMH) hospital management is delaying to process the paperwork to enable us to receive our terminal benefits.
“We need those terminal benefits to survive while waiting for something to come up,” Ms Motloung said.
She said the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) had helped them by opening a solidarity fund to enable well-wishers to donate towards their upkeep.