By Paidashe Mandivengerei
DOCTORS at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo Tuesday joined the ongoing health workers’ strike after receiving paltry October salaries which they argue can barely cover their minimum monthly expenses.
While doctors across the country have not reported for work since early last month, the Matabeleland surgeons had been performing their normal duties.
This elicited strong protests from their Harare colleagues forming the representative Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) who accused them for “betraying the struggle”.
The Mpilo health staff has since had a change of heart and has joined the job action that has already thrown the country’s ailing health sector into disarray.
In a letter addressed to Mpilo Head of Surgery Department, the surgeons claimed the sharp rise in the cost of living this month has prompted their decision to down their tools.
“We have diligently continued to do our duties despite barely making ends meet,” said the health staff.
“The sharp rise in cost of living has left us in a situation where our latest remuneration for the month of October is unable to meet the basic life essentials.
“As a result, our ability to skate through as before and report for duty has been eroded.
“It is regrettable that the situation has come to this.
“As a result, we will not be able to report for duty or cover the calls as stated on the duty roaster from now going forward.”
The letter concludes with a plea for a quick and viable solution to the myriad problems bedevilling the troubled sector.
“We are looking forward to your understanding through our trying times. We hope a lasting solution to our basic needs will be availed soon enough so that we can continue saving lives.”
Earlier this month, nurses at the main Bulawayo public hospital failed to report for duty over the exorbitant hike in transport fares which their meagre allowances could not cover.
Furthermore, government did not pay members of the ZHDA their October salaries after threatening the latter with disciplinary action if they continued with their job action.
Junior doctors are demanding their remuneration to be paid in the prevailing foreign currency interbank rates.
They also want better work conditions which their employer has failed to meet since negotiations which began earlier this year.