Striking doctors dismiss government threat to block their salaries

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THE stand-off between government and striking doctors continues with the medical practitioners scoffing at the threat by their employer to withdraw salaries.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) spokesperson Dr Mxolisi Ngwenya confirmed that they had received communication from government threatening the withholding of salaries but insisted this would not deter them.

He was addressing journalists at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare where a group of medical practitioners were picketing Monday,

“After receiving the letter of cessation of salaries on March 20, we presented it to our members who resolved to continue with the job action because it is their right,” Ngwenya said.

“There has been a deadlock with the employer and workers have a right to industrial action if they are unhappy with the conditions of service.”

The government intention to block wages for those doctors defying a directive to return to work was revealed in a circular signed by Health and Child Care Ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji.

Responding, the doctors said, “We would like to say that the letter is unconstitutional, unethical and unimplementable (sic).

“The law is clear that the employer can withdraw salaries if there is no good cause for industrial action by workers. But this (strike) is for a good cause and we tried to engage the employer since January 23.

“That letter is therefore null and void. In any. Case it was rescinded by the Acting President at the time (Retired) General (Constantino) Chiwenga and we await further communication.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has since pleaded with doctors to return to work while their issues are being addressed.

However, the medical practitioners demanded a written commitment, arguing they had been taken up the garden path by Health Minister David Parirenyatwa a number of times.

The doctors added they had lost confidence in the minister, accusing Parirenyatwa of lying and misinformation.