Junior doctors ‘grudgingly’ end crippling strike; say may not report for work every day

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By Staff Reporter & Agencies

HARARE: Junior doctors on Thursday “grudgingly” ended a crippling 40-day strike for better pay and conditions without a deal on salary increases, their union said, but warned that members may not report for work daily due to acute fuel shortages.

The development was confirmed in a statement by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA).

“ZHDA is delighted to inform the membership, and the public that the industrial action by doctors in government hospitals has come to an end. Our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today (Thursday) as dialogue continues,” the union said.

“Sadly, with no salary review, and frozen December salaries in this rough and ravaging economic environment, it remains a dilemma on how our members will report for work daily.

“Indeed, the poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remains a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work and discharging quality health services to patients.”

Government welcomed the decision to end the strike.

“We are very happy that they are back,” said health and child care minister Obadiah Moyo.

“We’ve always wanted them to be back at work and we are happy that they have heeded the call for the benefit of our patients, for the benefit of Zimbabweans.”

The Doctor’s statement came hours before government revealed it was offering public sector employees a 10 percent cost of living pay adjustment which was rejected outright by unions.

Junior doctors downed tools on the first of December complaining about lack of drugs in hospitals and to press for U.S. dollar salaries.

ZHDA said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government had started delivering medicines and other sundries in state hospitals and made a written undertaking to hire more doctors and review salaries and allowances. There was no timeline given.

Cash shortages have plunged Zimbabwe’s financial system into disarray, threatening unrest and undermining Mnangagwa’s efforts to win back foreign investors sidelined under his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

With not enough hard currency to back up funds showing in bank accounts, the value of electronic money has plummeted, prompting businesses and civil servants to demand payment in U.S. dollars they can withdraw.