Matthew Wale made the call on Monday in his contribution to Parliament during the Sine Die Motion.
He said the government should have conducted meaningful and respectful dialogue before suspending the association.
“Government’s first resort must be constructive meaningful respectful dialogue.
“Suspension of the trade union must be an option of last resort.
“The fact is, the nurses sought but did not get a sincere dialogue with the government,” he said.
The Opposition Leader said a single letter from the PMO and none from the health ministry over a five months period is not dialogue.
“Dialogue would have allowed the government to clearly demonstrate to the nurses why it is unable to meet their claims.
“With their trade union suspended, who will advocate for a profession critical to our efforts against COVID-19?
“It is in our interests that there is advocacy for nurses. In hard times such as we find ourselves in, we must urge all stakeholders to resist the temptation to exploit the situation for their benefit against the vast majority,” he said.
Mr. Wale said in the case of nurses, not attending to work in the current situation was clearly an inappropriate option bordering on unethical.
However, reasonable claims should at the very least receive due respect and consideration by the government, he added.
“No one can begrudge the government in making tough decisions that are reasonable, fair, and for the benefit of the majority of people. But these must be clearly explained to stakeholders in a timely manner,” he said.
The Opposition Leader added resorting to suspension of a trade union and suspension of their leaders, in the absence of genuine dialogue, is evidence of intimidation.
“This is not embracing our people at these difficult times. Look at the work environment in our health facilities which remain substandard.
“We lack sufficient skilled resources should there ever be community transmission of the virus. We should be building and supporting our health workers and not intimidating them.
“Be compassionate toward the nurses and their leaders, I urge the PM, and revoke the suspensions,” he concluded.
A number of senior nurses have since been suspended for their part in the recent sit-in protest.
By MOFFAT MAMU