Monday, 14 October 2019

GOVT, STRIKING DOCS SET FOR ARBITRATION


GOVERNMENT and striking doctors are now heading for arbitration following the expiration of the 48-hour ultimatum given by the Labour Court on Friday.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the Labour Court had a provision for arbitration, which Government was now pursuing.

He said the process should be done within 14 days. “The Labour Court ruling allows for arbitration; it makes life easy for everyone. There will be an arbitrator who will be able to oversee negotiations.

“As part of that arbitration, we should be able to come up with results,” said Dr Moyo. He said Government was still open for negotiations and hoped that the arbitration process would break the deadlock.

“The process has to be completed within 14 days from the ruling.  “We had our team approaching the court to ensure that the process takes place so this is the best form of negotiation for both parties and I think within 14 days, this whole process should have been completed,” said Dr Moyo.

For continuity of service provision, Government has made provisional arrangements for patients to be seen at local authority health facilities.

The arrangements include beefing up stocks and associated support for the clinics to be able to attend to the overwhelming number of patients, some of whom could have otherwise been treated at central hospitals.

Dr Moyo said Government had also extended the free blood policy to local authority institutions for access by pregnant mothers in need of it.

“We have planned that we will empower the hospitals belonging to local authorities especially in Harare and Bulawayo and give them as much support as possible because they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Dr Moyo.

Speaking at the same occasion, Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikhosana said Government was hoping the junior doctors were going to take heed of the court order and resume their duties. 

Dr Sikhosana said the 60 percent adjustment recently awarded by Government to health all workers will not reflect on today’s payslip owing to some delays in the implementation process.

“By the time the adjustments were approved, the Salaries Services Bureau (SSB) had already shut down their payroll for October.

“We were then advised to seek supplementary funding from Treasury.

“The adjustment will however, be paid before the end of October and will not reflect on tomorrow’s (today) payslip,” said Dr Sikhosana.

Meawhile, junior doctors in Bulawayo yesterday defied a Labour Court ruling ordering them to return to work as their job action is illegal.

Labour Court judge justice Rogers Manyangadze, sitting with Justice Lawrence Murasi, last Friday ruled that junior doctors who have been on strike since last month should return to work within 48 hours.

The doctors were expected to return to work yesterday morning after the Health Services Board successfully challenged the legality of their strike in court.

The court case came after parties involved in the Health Service Bipartite negotiating panel had agreed to a 60 percent increment in health sector specific allowances. 

Junior doctors under the banner of Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association did not report for duty worsening the plight of patients in hospitals.

Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya said only three doctors from those who had been on strike reported for duty yesterday.

“Only three came today. On Friday we had 143 doctors now we have 146 out of 204 so we now have 71 percent presence of doctors. Most of the services are being rendered despite these ones being absent. It’s a difficult situation,” said Dr Ngwenya.

United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) BH clinical director Dr Narcisious Dzvanga said nothing had changed from last week.

“Talk to ZHDA because nothing has changed this side,” he said.

The doctors’ organisation could not be reached immediately but on Sunday ZHDA issued a statement saying its members will not go back to work as they would appeal against the Labour Court ruling at the Supreme Court.
  
The doctors are now demanding their on-call allowance to be reviewed monthly at the prevailing interbank rate.

“The ZHDA has tabled a proposal to have on-call allowances reviewed monthly in accordance with the prevailing interbank rate. However, the HSB has rejected this offer due to their inability to peg salaries in US dollar.

“The ZHDA has requested that the HSB reconsider what viable options exist that will not leave doctors in a continued state of incapacitation and reflect a genuine appreciation for the prevailing economic environment and the reality of the financial predicament that has left doctors unable to offer their services,” reads their statement. Herald

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