Government In A Fix Over Doctors’ Strike- Parirenyatwa

HEALTH and Child Care Minister  Dr David Parirenyatwa says treasury is caught between a rock and hard place on whether they should heed to the doctors calls to increase allowances and remuneration for doctors amidst fears that such a move could trigger an even worse industrial action across other sections of the health sector.

By Michael Gwarisa

The doctors strike has entered its 21st day and indications of the industrial action ending soon are slim as doctors and associations representing doctors have vowed to dig in unless their demands are met by government.

Briefing a Parliamentary portfolio Committee on health, minister Parirenyatwa said  even though they had entered into negotiations with various bodies representing medical health professionals regards the strike, an agreement was yet to be reached as they were still some outstanding demands by doctors which were still to be met.

“The doctors started their industrial action citing various issues, including the oncall allowances, night duty allowances, stand by allowances plus issues of salaries, medicines, sundries and also the issue of vehicles. They also wanted the unfreezing of critical posts and to address the grading system.

“Negotiations had begun, there is what is called the bipartite negotiating platform. This is where the employees and employers meet and negotiate. This is where the negotiations about conditions of service are done.  When the issues came, they went to that platform, until we reached a stage where offers were being made. On the last negotiations, the doctors walked out of the agreements while others remained.

“Now what finance is saying is that if we heed the call by doctors and increase their salaries and allowances, we should remember that there are other repercussions that could follow. However, we are telling them that lets put health as priority, this is where the crunch is. Do we then consider the issue on call allowances and risk a scenario whereby doctors return to work and nurses go on strike,” said Dr Parirenaytwa.

[pullquote]He said an agreement was dully signed at the bipartite negotiations and it was on that basis that he made the announcement that doctors could now resume work.[/pullquote]

“Essentially there is a negotiating platform with accredited representatives, the chairman of the team there is one Chimbunde. When we say they walked out, we mean the doctors. I was not there, this is a negotiating platform created by government chairman by someone else.”

Minister Parienyatwa added that they would negotiate with the doctors until an agreement is met.

“Agree or disagree, we will continue to negotiate with the senior doctor because they are a key component in the health sector. The issue is negotiation and communication and be able to reach some agreeable ground.

“If we would get to some agreement, doctors should come back to work tomorrow, that should give a semblance of normalcy,” he said.










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