Zimbabwe: Go Back to Work, Junior Doctors Urged

Zimbabwe doctors on strike.
31 December 2018

SENIOR doctors yesterday urged striking junior doctors to immediately return to work as Government was committed to addressing their grievances as soon as is practically feasible. Junior doctors went on strike on December 1 demanding salaries in US dollars and better working conditions.

The Labour Court in Harare last week ruled the industrial action illegal.

The Government then suspended the striking doctors.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) president Professor Francis Chaora said Government had responded to the striking doctors' grievances on December 24 and committed to reviewing their conditions of service.

"Government, through the same communication, committed itself to allowing duty-exempt importation of vehicles meant for doctors and other health workers under the vehicle loan scheme, further committing itself to disbursing the outstanding US$6 million by 31st December 2018," said Prof Chaora.

He said Government, through the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm), had also started receiving critical medicines and accessories for better health delivery.

"The meeting further noted and was satisfied that NatPharm was mindful of, and fulfilling, its obligation to the public by ensuring safe medicines are availed to hospitals and clinics," said Prof Chaora.

He said Government and ZiMA noted the existence of a Labour Court judgment declaring the strike by junior doctors illegal and ordering them to return to work within 12 hours.

The junior doctors defied the ruling.

"The meeting was concerned that the junior doctors had not complied with the court ruling, thus putting themselves on the wrong side of the law.

"Both parties agreed that it was important for the striking doctors to return to lawful conduct by promptly resuming work in order to break the current impasse for the resumption and normalisation of services in the health sector. Both parties urged the junior doctors to be on the same page with both Government and ZiMA, their mediator, in the spirit of returning services to normal in the interest of patients," said Prof Chaora.

He said the meeting agreed that any disciplinary measures instituted by the employer against the junior doctors must be fair and non-discriminatory.

The Health Services Board (HSB) attended the press conference.

HSB chairperson Professor Auxillia Chideme-Munodawafa also urged the junior doctors to return to work.

Besides the HSB, Prof Chaora was also accompanied by chairperson of the ZiMA mediating taskforce, Mr Christopher Samkange and other taskforce members, Dr Enock Mayida and Dr Stanford Chigumira.

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