Doc­tors end strike

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

JU­NIOR doc­tors who have been on strike for more than a month have called off the in­dus­trial ac­tion and will re­sume work in 48 hours fol­low­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions that were held yes­ter­day.

A Health Bi­par­tite Ne­go­ti­at­ing Panel which com­prised the work­ers, the Health Ser­vices Board and the Govern­ment reached a con­sen­sus to end the strike that had crip­pled most re­fer­ral hos­pi­tals in the coun­try. In a state­ment yes­ter­day, signed by all the par­ties, the panel agreed on a raft of mea­sures that will see im­prove­ment in the health ser­vice de­liv­ery in the coun­try.

They noted im­prove­ment of med­i­cal sup­plies at Nat­pharm and Govern­ment is still in the process of dis­tribut­ing the sup­plies to all Govern­ment hos­pi­tals. Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, the Govern­ment also as­sured its em­ploy­ees of long term com­mit­ments to en­sure avail­abil­ity of ba­sic medicines and sun­dries in all in­sti­tu­tions. Fur­ther, the Govern­ment gave re­as­sur­ance on a pre­vi­ous po­si­tion to re­view al­lowances in April.

“There shall be con­tin­ued en­gage­ment be­tween Govern­ment and Health Work­ers con­cern­ing re­mu­ner­a­tion in US dol­lars. The Apex panel was tasked with draft­ing a po­si­tion pa­per with the re­quired ad­just­ments for health work­ers salaries by the end of March 2019,” read the state­ment.

The panel said in terms of un­freez­ing posts, the crit­i­cal posts re­quired to bring re­lief to Health Ser­vice de­liv­ery would cost an es­ti­mated $12,5 mil­lion which ex­ceeds the $10 mil­lion of­fered by Trea­sury which would in­clude posts for se­nior regis­trars.

The state­ment also read that Trea­sury has also ful­filled its ear­lier po­si­tion and re­leased the re­main­ing $6 mil­lion to com­plete fund­ing for the Health Ser­vice Ve­hi­cle Loan Scheme.

“Health work­ers will now get duty free cer­tifi­cates on their own vo­li­tion, a scheme that will op­er­ate separately from the Ve­hi­cle Loan Scheme. It will also not in­ter­fere with the orig­i­nal Ve­hi­cle Loan Scheme. The max­i­mum val­ues for the Duty Free Scheme shall be USD$7 500 for Ju­nior Res­i­dent Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers and Se­nior Reg­is­tered Med­i­cal Of­fi­cers, USD$15 000 for mid­dle level doc­tors and USD$30 000 for se­nior doc­tors,” read the state­ment.

The state­ment fur­ther states that doc­tors were also guar­an­teed that they will not be vic­timised for tak­ing part in the in­dus­trial ac­tion as it was cleared by the Labour Court. How­ever, dis­ci­plinary cases of re­main­ing cases would be done by se­nior doc­tors. In ad­di­tion, there will be no dis­missals or sus­pen­sions and no fur­ther pur­su­ing of court pro­ceed­ings af­ter the en­gage­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the panel, De­cem­ber salaries for doc­tors and ra­dio­g­ra­phers who par­tic­i­pated in the il­le­gal in­dus­trial ac­tion would be paid in lieu of leave days by the end of Jan­uary. Doc­tors and ra­dio­g­ra­phers who were af­fected would need ad­vance pay­ments for the month of De­cem­ber 2018 which would be given by their in­sti­tu­tions upon sub­mis­sion of ap­pli­ca­tions for the ad­vances.

On ac­com­mo­da­tion, the panel agreed that ef­forts would be made to en­sure that ju­nior doc­tors and health work­ers would get de­cent ac­com­mo­da­tion at health in­sti­tu­tions. In­sti­tu­tions will also en­sure that food would be pro­vided for work­ers on call dur­ing nights. A hous­ing scheme shall also be ini­ti­ated in Jan­uary 2019 to ac­com­mo­date mid­dle level, se­nior doc­tors and other health work­ers who stay out­side the hos­pi­tal premises.

The Govern­ment fur­ther af­firmed that for 2019, all doc­tors who fin­ish train­ing would get em­ploy­ment at Govern­ment in­sti­tu­tions while ad­di­tional posts will also be cre­ated at cen­tral, provin­cial and district hos­pi­tals to ac­com­mo­date such mem­bers. The panel agreed that Trea­sury will in turn pro­vide fund­ing for place­ment and re­mu­ner­a­tion of all su­per­nu­mer­ary regis­trars by the end of Fe­bru­ary 2019.

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