Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
Striking junior doctors have up to this morning to report for work after Labour Court ruled their industrial action illegal last Friday and ordered them to report for work within 48 hours.
The ruling followed an application by the Health Services Board (HSB) to the Labour Court.
In an interview with our Harare Bureau yesterday, HSB board chairman Dr Paulinus Sikosana said the doctors had up to this morning to report for work.
He said if the doctors failed to report for work this morning, the board will then decide on the next move.
“We will start monitoring the situation tomorrow (today) because the Labour Court ruling says 48 hours. We will then see how we can proceed, should they fail to report for work as directed,” said Dr Sikosana.
The striking doctors have vowed not to report for work despite the Friday ruling, which declared their mass job action as illegal.
Through the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), the doctors said that they will soon be lodging an appeal with the Supreme Court challenging the decision of the Labour Court.
“While doctors would want nothing more than to return to work in service of their patients, they continue to be incapacitated. They lack resources to enable them to comply with the Labour Court judgement. An appeal will be lodged with the Supreme Court,” said ZHDA in a statement yesterday.
The doctors said the latest engagement between them and the Health Services Board (HSB) on Friday, again failed to bear fruit.
The doctors are now demanding their on-call allowance to be reviewed monthly at the prevailing interbank rate.
“The ZHDA has tabled a proposal to have on-call allowances reviewed monthly in accordance with the prevailing interbank rate. However, the HSB has rejected this offer due to their inability to peg salaries in US dollar.
“The ZHDA has requested that the HSB reconsider what viable options exist that will not leave doctors in a continued state of incapacitation and reflect a genuine appreciation for the prevailing economic environment and the reality of the financial predicament that has left doctors unable to offer their services,” further reads their statement.
Should the doctors fail to report for work today, the strike would have entered the 43rd day.
Although the majority of them have not been reporting for work for all these days, some doctors including seniors continued offering their services.
Apart from a cost of living adjustment, the doctors have also cited inadequate medicines and equipment as hindrance to effective delivery of health services.
Government has however launched a number of initiatives meant to address these challenges.
These initiatives include partnerships with Indian pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies as well as assistance from the United Arab Emirates.
In addition, Government has offered the doctors a 60 percent increment to their allowances and has committed to continue negotiations.