Get back to your senses, govt tells striking doctors

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By Leopold Munhende

DESPERATE to end a two month long industrial action by doctors, government says it now hopes the medical practitioners will see the folly of their actions after the Labour Court ruling early this month.

But the doctors have stuck to their guns since downing tools on September demanding a review of the allowances and salaries at the bank currency rate between the local currency and the US dollar.

Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists at a post-Cabinet briefing Tuesday that disciplinary hearings against all doctors who have been on strike will begin this week and salaries will only be paid to those that have been reporting for duty.

“Medical services remain constrained especially at Harare and Bulawayo hospitals where the absence of doctors is more pronounced, disciplinary hearings of the striking doctors who did not comply with the Labour Court judgement will commence on Friday 1st November, 2019.

“We hope the doctors will come to their senses to do the job that they went to school for, that is to save human life,” Mutsvangwa said.

“We cannot give up on what we were actually trained to do, dialogue can go on while people are on the job. We call on them to get back to work to avert the death of our people.”

Mutsvangwa added: “We are obviously calling on doctors to have that humane mind, a humane heart to say that while we are negotiating because government has never failed to dialogue.”

Attempts by government to appease them with a 100% salary increase that would have taken the lowest paid doctor to just about $2000 the equivalence of US$100 on the parallel market has been rejected.

Doctors lost the Labour Court case but announced the decision cannot be enforced because most of them are incapacitated.

Mutsvangwa said doctors are not the only government workers whose salaries have been eroded by inflation.

“I am sure when we talk of the salaries and how they have been eroded by inflation this is across the board. A lot of our people are suffering, a lot of interventions are being put in place especially where it concerns safety nets to just make sure we give some relief to our people.

“We are very much aware that our populace is suffering,” she said.

Doctors declared incapacitation on 3 September this year and have not been at work since.

Government’s decision to rope in health practitioners from the military has done little to improve the situation in public health institutions.