Sunday, January 06, 2019

Strike Is Still On; The Person Who Signed The Deal Is Not Our Man: Say Defiant Junior Doctors
By Staff reporter
January 6, 2019

CONFUSION continues over the crisis in the country’s public health sector with government declaring that a deal had been reached ending the strike by junior doctors, a claim however, denied by the clinicians.

Officials called a press conference at government’s Munhumutapa offices Saturday where it was revealed that an agreement had been reached with the doctors through a forum described as Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP).

It was claimed that the striking doctors had agreed to return to work in the next 48 hours.

Representatives of the doctors however, dismissed the claim, saying they did not sign the agreement.

The supposed agreement was announced by Health Service Board chairperson Paulinas Sikhosana.

“There was a Health service Bipartite Negotiating Forum this afternoon (Saturday) and we are glad to announce that there has been a resolution of the labour dispute,” he said.

“An agreement was signed by the parties, the doctors on strike have agreed to go back to work starting immediately until 17:00 hours on Monday.

“Government is pleased that within the next few hours the situation in our affected hospitals will be returning back to normalcy.

“We wish to thank everyone who worked hard to make this happen.”

However, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), which represents the striking doctors insisted that the strike was continuing.

“The strike is still continuing, we did not agree on some sections and as doctors, we refused to sign,” said (ZHDA) secretary general Mthabisi Bhebhe.

On Friday, state media reported that the doctors had agreed to return to work following a meeting at State House with first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa.

The doctors dismissed the claim and insisted that the job action was continuing.

The strike is now in its second month and has since been joined by radiographers with senior doctors also warning they will be downing tools if the dispute is not resolved.

The doctors want their salaries paid in US dollars, a demand rejected outright by the government which says it does not earn its revenue in foreign currency.

The administration claims it has addressed the doctors other demands, including the availability of basic medicines and sundries in all institutions.

More than 500 of the striking doctors have since been suspended after the labour court ruled the job action illegal.

-New Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Strike Not Called Off: Doctors' Representative

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A doctors’ strike in Zimbabwe has not been called off, a representative said on Friday, after state media said the action had ended following a meeting between medical staff and first lady Auxilla Mnangagwa.

The nationwide strike, now into its second month, is to demand better pay and conditions in a country grappling with severe dollar shortages and spiralling inflation.

Mthabisi Bebhe, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, told Reuters that contrary to reports in the state-owned newspaper, the Herald, the association had not yet consulted members after the meeting.

“Members of the executive met with (Auxilla Mnangagwa) but no agreement was reached,” Bebhe said. “The strike has not been called off.”

Auxilla Mnangagwa is an advocate on health issues.

The doctors’ first strike in March last year marked the first major labor dispute faced by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who is under pressure to repair an economy suffering after decades of missteps by his predecessor Robert Mugabe.

Public hospitals have been left short of drugs and reliant on patients to buy them, while pharmacies have stopped accepting insurance policies for purchases and demand payment in U.S. dollars.

Mnangagwa said in a video posted by the Information Ministry on Friday that the doctors had shared their concerns during the meeting and expressed their willingness to return to work.

“I will ask the relevant authorities to handle their demands,” he said.

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