Striking doctors vow defiance against court order to resume work

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By Idah Mhetu

STRIKING junior doctors have vowed to defy a Friday ruling by the Labour Court to resume work on Monday and have threatened to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court claiming they were “incapacitated” to report for work.

Junior doctors working in the country’s public hospitals are on day 42 of their job action.

They insist their current Zimbabwean dollar denominated wages rendered them financially incapacitated to report for duty.

Last week, the Labour Court pronounced the strike illegal and ordered the critical health staff to return to work by Monday this week.

But speaking through their representative, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), the medical practitioners said they were willing to comply with the order but their current situation made it impractical to go back to work.

“The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association will continue to negotiate for a viable solution to end this unfortunate impasse and has noted with great dismay the verdict of the Labour Court calling for doctors to return to work on Monday 14 October 2019,” read the statement.

“While doctors would want nothing more than to return to work in service of their patients, they continue to be incapacitated and lack the resources to allow them to comply with the Labour Court judgement.”

“An appeal will be lodged with the supreme court.”

Negotiations with the government have reached a deadlock as the doctors rejected a 60% pay increase offer and demanded their salaries be pegged in the much stable US dollar.

Said the doctors’ group, “On Friday 11th October another meeting was held with the Permanent Secretary, Mr Madyiradema, in attendance; however, no progress was made as the Health Services Board has reiterated the offer of a 60% increment.

“The ZHDA has tabled a proposal to have on-call allowances reviewed monthly in accordance with the prevailing interbank rate. However, the Health Services Board has rejected this offer due to their inability to peg salaries to USD,” read the statement.

Early last week, Health Minister Obadiah Moyo ordered the doctors to return to work, threatening them with unspecified disciplinary action if they did not comply.

However, the doctors still did not comply with the directive.

The doctors vowed to continue advocating quality health services.

“ZHDA continues to advocate for quality health services which include adequately stocked hospitals and fairly remunerated staff. We remain hopeful that a sincere and lasting solution will be found,” read the statement.