HARARE - Junior doctors have refused to sign a government contract of employment which they claim violates women’s rights and fair labour practice.
The doctors petitioned Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Lovemore Mbengeranwa, Health minister David Parirenyatwa and Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji on Wednesday.
Mbengeranwa confirmed receiving the petition but referred all questions to Gwinji.
Gwinji’s mobile phones were unreachable.
The doctors, who are referred to as junior resident medical officers, claim their contract of employment was prejudicial to their welfare.
“We junior doctors . . . are petitioning you to rescind the document presented to us as a ‘Contract for an Internship Training programme’ . . . we have found it to be grossly flawed as it violates our constitutional rights, labour laws as well as women’s rights”, the junior doctors wrote in their petition.
They took issue with being referred to as as interns on attachment, saying they have graduated from the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) as medical doctors and are registered with the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe.
“The contract violates our constitutional rights which leave room for exploitation,” the doctors said, adding that the contract outlaws joining or forming labour unions or participate in job actions.
“Section 4.3 (b) of the contract violates women’s employee right to a fully paid maternity leave for a period of at least three months,” they argued.
The doctors, who were supposed to commence their duties at the beginning of this month, said the contract was also not clear on salaries, allowances and non-cash incentives.
The contract was flawed and carried void clauses, they said, which did not leave room for negotiation on other issues to do with working timetables.
According to the petition, detention for more than seven days by the police was an act of misconduct warranting a dismissal.