Zimbabwe: Striking Doctors Snub Wage Talks As Govt Offers 100% Increase

Zimbabwe doctors on strike (file photo).
19 October 2019

ZIMBABWE'S striking doctors Friday snubbed wage negotiations in which government pledged an immediate 100 percent increase to their allowances to health workers.

The doctors were represented by the Health Apex Council which has since been dumped by the critical medical practitioners for allegedly failing to fully represent their interests during negotiations with government.

During the latest wage talks, government increased by 100 percent, allowances for junior doctors and other health staff in its latest bid to end a crippling job action by public hospital doctors.

This will see a junior doctors' on-call allowance of $1 200 increased to $2 400 while nurses will get $720 for either night duty, standby or call allowances, up from the previous $360.

Nurse managers will now get $1 000, up from $500.

The increases are with effect from 1 October this year and are a revision from the initial 60 percent pledged by government earlier during the month.

The allowances offered to health workers by Government are in addition to other health sector-specific allowances that include locum rates, initial uniform grant, initial uniform allowance, out-of-residence allowance and psychiatric allowances, which were reviewed last Friday by at least 100 percent each.

Said Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Paulinus Sikosana after Friday's talks, "Parties to the Health Services Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP) met on 18 October 2019 to continue the unfinished negotiations on the review of the Health Sector Specific Allowances following the signing of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) Number 3 of 2019 on 4 October 2019.

"CBA 3 of 2019, provided for a 60 percent adjustment on the HSCA with effect from 01 October 2019.

"On 18 October 2019, parties to the HSBNP agreed that the said CBA 3 of 2019 be amended to provide for a review of the health sector specific allowances by a further 40 percent from 60 percent."

However, the doubling of wages could do little to appease a restive workforce within the country's ailing sector as health workers have been demanding their salaries to be paid based on prevailing interbank rates which keep shifting rapidly.

According to the latest schedule and based on the prevailing inter-bank rates of RTGS$15.80 and RTGS$18 (black market), this means a junior doctor's on-call allowance of RTGS$1 200 was hiked from US$76 (interbank) or US$67 (black market) to US$152 or US$134.

With the giant increases offered, as perceived by authorities, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has slammed striking doctors for rejecting the initial 60 percent offered as increase by his government.

He accuses the doctors of pandering to the whims of the enemy which his administration says has not rested from a regime change push.

The latest wages could further be whittled down by run-away inflation of 591 percent - according International economist and currency expert Steve Hanke - by end of the year.

Meanwhile, government has pledged full bonus payments for its troubled workforce for 2019, unlike last year when the country's biggest employer paid the 13th cheque based on pensionable salaries only.

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