Thursday, 2 July 2020

NO FOREX PAY, NO WORK : HEALTH WORKERS TELL GOVT


This comes as the Health Apex Council met with the government in the Bipartite Negotiating Panel on Tuesday, where the government indicated that there would be no salary increase for the health workers for the next three months given that they were offered a 50 percent increase and US$75 coronavirus (Covid-19) allowance valid for the next three months.
  
“All health workers’ associations agreed that the government does not seem intent on addressing health workers’ incapacitation and the issue remains unresolved. For that reason, all health workers will continue withholding their labour until the government decides that health workers matter and approaches them with a genuine intention to improve the situation.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the economy has dollarised despite the government’s shallow denials. Health workers will not return to work until they are offered their salaries in United States dollars, as they were on the 1st of October 2018,” the council said in a notice to its members.

The council added that it had raised the issue of health workers’ incapacitation, to which the government responded saying it had taken steps to increase the basic salaries as well as housing and transport allowances by 50 percent and that all other allowances had not been increased.

“Crucially and disturbingly, the government insisted that through these payments, no more salary reviews should take place for the next three months and employees should be content with what they have been given until September when the government is willing to start reviews again.

“Furthermore, the government insisted   that it had cushioned employees by introducing a Covid-19 allowance of US$75 which will be used through special swipe cards rather than through actual disbursement of US dollar cash. 

“The government insisted that these two arrangements would be in place for the months of June, July and August and yet no clarification was given as to when the 50 percent increment will be made and also when cards will be issued,” the Council further said. 

Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the government would not offer civil servants cash “so that they don’t play money changer in the streets with the foreign currency”.

The council added that the government had taken away the right of employees to collectively bargain for better conditions of employment for the next three months, thereby rendering useless the Bipartite Negotiating Panel. 

“Furthermore, the offer by the government was done unilaterally without consulting the health workers. As a result, the offer is woefully short of what health workers are demanding.

“To our shock the government did not bring a better offer and instead wants to maintain the downward allowance calculations of $1 500, $900 and $600 for high, middle, and low risk employees respectively,” the council said.

Last year, doctors engaged in a four-month long strike citing incapacitation, which further crippled the country’s ailing health delivery system. Daily News

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