By Paidashe Mandivengerei
STRIKING doctors have set up a crowd funding initiative appealing for donations from the public after government denied them their October salaries.
The health workers, who are pressing on with their job action which commenced over six weeks ago, on Thursday launched the initiative that they said will go some way to help the desperate medical personnel.
In their latest meeting with the Health Service Board (HSB), the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZHDA) rejected a 60% increment offer on their on call allowance which they described as an “insult”, declaring further incapacitation until their grievances are satisfactorily addressed.
However, last week, government topped up the increment with another 40% to bring the total to a double salary.
Doctors are demanding remuneration at the current interbank rates arguing their current salaries are constantly being eroded by inflation.
They are also demanding better working conditions as shortages of medicines persist.
The strike has already been declared illegal by the Labour Court but the doctors argue they are incapacitated even to abide by the order.
The withdrawal of salaries has worsened the already dire financial situation among the health workers particularly the junior resident medical officers who rely solely on their monthly wages.
In a memo to its members, the ZHDA said it would not allow government to force their hand into accepting ridiculous offers.
“The employer’s move of not paying ZHDA members their October salaries did not come as a surprise to us.
“We will never allow desperation to turn us into paupers who take anything thrown their way,” the memo said in part.
“To help ease the financial burdens especially on the Junior Resident Medical Officers (JRMO), we have set up crowd funding in collaboration with our affiliate associations. It will not be much but it will be something.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently claimed the doctors are being used by Western powers to soil the country’s image.
Government has pleaded with doctors to return to work while their grievances were being looked into.
But the health workers are pulling in a different direction, insisting they will only return to work when their problems are resolved.