Doctors’ strike continues

…despite government’s threats to ban strikes

Doctors in Zimbabwe have vowed to continue with their strike despite Government’s threats to ban strikes by civil servants.

The industrial action, which began Tuesday continues today indefinitely, as doctors insist they are incapacitated.

This doctors’ strike comes at a time when other civil servants have also threatened to take the same route in the face of incomes that continue to be eroded by the deteriorating economy.

The civil servants umbrella body – Apex Council – has since been on salaries and conditions of service negotiations with the government, which however, have not yielded much fruit.

Among the doctors’ grievances, are the high cost of living against salaries, which have remained low.

In an interview with CITE, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) Provincial representative’s spokesperson, Dr Peter Magombeyi, confirmed that doctors across the country were not reporting for duty.

“Doctors across the country are incapacitated and we are not going for work,” he said.

Dr Magombeyi explained that terming their industrial action as a strike was incorrect as the doctors wanted to work but could not afford to.

“The doctors are not on strike. The will to go to work is there but the means do not allow. We are incapacitated and we are working from home. Doctors from Parirenyatwa, Mpilo Hospital, United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and doctors across the country are all not reporting for duty,” he said.

Dr Magombeyi said they would continue with the industrial action indefinitely.

“Our expectations are just clear, we want our salaries to be adjusted at interbank market rate. We are also saying the 60 percent salary increment offered by government is not adequate,” he said.

At Mpilo Central Hospital, in Bulawayo, Clinical director, Dr Solwayo Ngwenya, revealed that only a number of doctors had not reported for work since Tuesday as they were still negotiating with the government.

“Only a few doctors have not reported for duty at Mpilo Hospital as they are still negotiating with the Government in Harare,” said Dr Ngwenya.

Reports said that out of 57 doctors at Mpilo Hospital, only 15 junior doctors had reported for work Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Government has since approved the new Health Services Amendment Bill, which now only allows aggrieved health workers to go on strike for few hours.

The proposed law seeks to almost ban all forms of industrial action by workers in the health sector, who are now classified as an essential service together with the police and the military.

However, at the National Assembly (Wednesday) Justice Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi said the government could not give the health sector preferential treatment at the expense of other sectors.

“What government cannot do at this stage is to treat one sector with preference and neglect the other sector,” said Ziyambi.

“World-wide, strikes are allowed, and you cannot have a prescription to foresee events that will happen to then deal with demonstration and strikes of a particular sector,” he said.

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