Zimbabwe: Doctors Turn Back On Health Apex Council

Striking doctors (file photo).
7 October 2019

Striking junior doctors might not be able to negotiate their conditions of service going forward following their latest decision to exit the Health Apex Council, which represents not only them, but the rest of health workers in the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP).

The HSBNP, which is a replica of the Public Service Tripartite Negotiating Forum, only entertains talks from workers through the Apex Council, which is composed of all health workers, doctors included.

"The current law does not entertain any other negotiations outside this platform unless they are advocating for changing of the law," said a source close to the happenings who spoke on condition of anonymity due to protocol. "Even if they are entertained outside this platform, for their agreement to be implemented, it has to come through the HSBNP, whose establishment and composition is clearly spelt out in the HSBNP Statutory Instrument 111 of 2006."

In a statement yesterday, the junior doctors, through the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) announced that it had exited the Health Apex Council.

The announcement was made during an HSBNP meeting held on Friday.

"ZHDA members in attendance took the opportunity to bid farewell to the Health Apex Council. ZHDA exited the health apex council (APEXIT) on Friday 04 October 2019," reads part of their statement.

This decision followed their position to reject the 60 percent increment offered by the employer in the same meeting.

The rest of other health workers accepted the offer.

"As doctors, we encounter many different challenges which are peculiar to us due the nature of our work, hence the need for creation of a new different negotiating platform altogether," reads the statement.

"Reasons being that the HSBNP does not seem to have the capacity to resolve the current ongoing impasse between doctors and the employer."

ZHDA is one of at least 20 associations represented in the Health Apex Council.

Junior doctors have not been going to work, citing incapacitation for the past month and recently, their seniors joined in, allegedly out of sympathy.

The doctors have rejected all the offers by Government and vowed not to return to work until they are awarded a meaningful cost of leaving adjustment, leaving many patients stranded at public health institutions.

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