No pay for striking doctors

HARARE – Government has said it will not pay doctors for the days they were absent at their work stations during the 40-day long industrial action which started early in December and ended at the start of last month.

The Heath Services Board told the Daily News that government will only pay the health workers for the days that they worked.

“Although we asked SSB to full pay for their salaries this month, I think it is only fair that people get paid for the work they do, no work no pay.

“We however, negotiated and said they could borrow money about $500 to $1 000, from a health fund which they will return progressively.

“We also told the doctors that they could also take their off days and turn them to monetary terms in order for them to get paid because no business pays employees that were not at work.”

Doctors across the country caused pandemonium in the medical sector striking for 40 days, before government heeded their call and agreed to cushion the ailing medical sector and address the dire situation in hospitals.

Negotiations between government and ZHDA took more than a month due to government’s continual adamant responses to the disgruntled medical practitioners.

The striking doctors were protesting the severe shortages of pharmaceutical drugs at public hospitals — as well as poor working conditions among a host of other grievances.

Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has for a while now been battling myriad problems, as a result of the country’s worsening economic climate.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) secretary-general, Mthabisi Anele Bhebhe, told the Daily News that although they took the decision to go back to work to give a chance to dialogue with government they are “unimpressed by the manner and the pace at which their outstanding grievances are being addressed’’.

ZHDA also revealed that doctors earn a basic monthly salary of about $385 before allowances such as on-call stipends, which they also say is very low.

“The government promised to provide fuel to doctors to curb the frustration of waiting and sleeping in fuel queues and the delays in reporting to duty as a result.

“Unfortunately this has not been addressed.

“In fact, we have witnessed fuel hikes that are not accompanied by commensurate salary adjustments, leaving us in a tight spot,” Bhebhe said.

Besides fuel, government had consented to give the doctors a duty-free facility to import cars, unfreezing of posts and institution of supernumerary posts for registrars and fuel.

Health minister Obadiah Moyo had said Treasury would release $6 million before end of year for doctors’ car vehicle loans and unfreeze 402 posts.

“These are other important factors that still need attention. Yes, we still need our salaries in US dollars as in accordance with the legally binding Collective Bargaining Agreement we made with our employer. The alternative has not been discussed soberly.

“The government should take the welfare of doctors seriously because we are essential service and this must reflect by paying us respectable, fair and just salaries.”

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