Striking doctors dig in

HARARE - Government has ordered striking medical doctors to return to work, rejecting demands for salaries in US dollars, with the workers’ union also becoming inflexible in their negotiations. 

Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said government has ruled out doctors’ demand to be paid in US dollars and castigated the physicians for misplaced priorities. He said the doctors must “return to work” while the two parties continue negotiations.

“On the payment of salaries in US dollars, naturally, Cabinet does not feel like that is the right way to go either. Is it a correct way to think, especially in an environment where the US dollar is scarce?” Moyo asked rhetorically.

The minister said it sounds awkward for doctors to demand salaries in greenback instead of pushing for the availing of US dollars required to purchase drugs.

The strike, which began earlier this month, has provoked anger among Zimbabweans and put pressure on President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government. 

The doctors’ union, which has about 1 000 members, wants the government to implement a deal agreed way back to give them a pay rise, hike allowances and address drugs shortages in hospitals.

“The doctors, who earn a basic monthly salary of about $385 before allowances, are also demanding a hike in on-call allowances by 25 percent to $10 an hour paid in cash.

They also want vehicle loans. 

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) secretary- general Mthabisi Bhebhe said as much as doctors want to go back to work and assist patients, they are rendered helpless due to acute shortage of drugs and necessary equipment.

“Our hands are tied. How does the employer expect us to exercise our duty without necessary equipment? We have the knowledge of how to treat people as doctors, but for us to put that into practice, we need aid from equipment and drugs,” Bhebhe said.

“The government is busy giving us excuses and promises. We do not want promises but we want practical action. Right now, they are telling us of drugs that are still in India.”

ZHDA said the strike continues as long as the government remains adamant in addressing their grievances.

“None of the grievances has been addressed and negotiations are being deliberately delayed and done in bad faith,” Bhebhe said.

Bhebhe vowed that doctors will remain on industrial action until such a time practical and convincing solutions are provided to mitigate avoidable mobility and mortality among patients.

Moyo has claimed there has been a release of $2,5 million worth of medicines through Natpham, with the medication set to be distributed to hospitals.

He added that Treasury will release $6 million before end of year for doctors’ car vehicle loans and unfreeze 402 posts. He claimed a large number of doctors had already returned to work except for a handful, a claim strenuously rejected by the unions.  

“What is being witnessed is gross misrepresentation of facts and complete disregard of the gravity of this matter,” Bhebhe said.

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Comments (2)

If it is towards elections chiefs would receive top range vehicles, just so recently cabinet was spoiled with top range suvs, come to doctors and us the povo dololo

Kufandada - 14 December 2018

That is ZANU, full of rubbish. See all the big shots at the ZANU circus, where did they get fuel to get there. Money spent on the circus. It is our money, Zimbos wake up lets all go on strike shut down Zimbabawe. hurt the in their pockets, do not wait for cry babies from MDC. shut down Zimbabawe

ALEXIO - 15 December 2018

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