Friday, December 3, 2021

Nurses’ union demands risk allowance

Botswana Nurses Union (BONU) is weighing options to force government to provide nurses with risk allowance.

BONU President Obonolo Rahube told The Telegraph that government is still dillydallying on providing nurses with risk allowances, adding that it has been over a year now calling for the payment of allowances.

Rahube indicated that BONU committee is currently engaging their legal team to map a way forward.

Early last year, BONU called on Government to provide risk allowances to nurses who are stationed at border gates and isolation centres in the fight against the Corona Virus pandemic.

Rahube said that although the issue has long been on the table, government has been reluctant to meet the union in order to settle the matter.

Rahube pointed out that government should take the plight of nurses with utmost seriousness it deserves as it has proven over time that nurses are contracting the virus in large numbers.

“Government long promised to meet us on the issue but even to date nothing has come to fruition, nurses are contracting the virus in large numbers especially the delta variant. It is in the best interest of nurses to have risk allowances provided to them because the risk is getting high by the day,” said Rahube.

Rahube highlighted that those nurses are vulnerable and could be exposed to the deadly virus. He added that should Government fail to provide nurses with risk allowance, there should be consideration of providing them with hundred per cent medical aid insurance cover.

“We submitted three proposals to government being that nurses should be provided with risk allowances, relax nurse’s taxes and also to give nurses 100% medical cover. We are dealing with a government that is not willing to take workers seriously and this is a great concern especially during these times,” added Rahube.

He added that 20 nurses have succumbed to virus to date.

Recently Rahube explained that the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for frontline workers was not consistent. “Government had agreed in principle to provide nurses with PPEs but to this point there hasn’t been a constant supply of PPEs,” he said.

There are also a number of substantive issues that have not been resolved. Government has not provided these nurses with any form of psychosocial support but people need counselling.

Rahube said 8000 nurses are without uniform allowances for April/May 2021.

Government also failed to effect payment in September 2021 for compensation for non-provision of uniforms.

This year during Nurse’s Day celebrations, the union leader outlined the challenges that nurses and midwives go through in Botswana and advised government to address them ‘urgently’.

“Government should, as a matter of urgency, provide subsidised accommodation for nurses and midwives as it has emerged during the fight against Covid-19 that accommodation for nurses and midwives is very vital,” highlighted Rahube, who maintains government should provide nurses and midwives with 100 percent medical cover.

“The biggest issue facing nurses and other healthcare staff around the world is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect themselves and their patients against infection,” pointed out Rahube.

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