THE government is heading for a showdown with junior doctors at public hospitals after it recently ordered chief executive officers and provincial medical directors to effect salary deductions on all junior doctors who took part in last month’s strike.
In a letter dated November 27 2014, Health and Child Care permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji ordered hospital bosses at the country’s four main referral hospitals to submit names of the doctors who participated in the industrial action to the Salary Service Bureau to enable the deductions to be made this month.
“It is noted that junior doctors were on industrial action during the period October 27 to November 14 2014,” part of the letter, which was copied to the Health Service Board, reads.
“Please be advised that the days members were not reporting for duty should be treated as leave without pay.
“Therefore, names of members who were absent from duty should be submitted to Salary Service Bureau for processing and copy this office.
“Furthermore, retention allowances should not be paid for the days members were not on duty. Deductions should be effected on the December 2014 pay sheet.”
But the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) yesterday condemned the move and accused the government of insincerity in resolving public medical personnel’s grievances.
In a statement, the ZHDA decried what they described as arrogance and disregard of negotiations between themselves and the Health ministry.
“The ZHDA views this as an act of utter insincerity, arrogance, implementation of wrong administrative policies and complete disregard of the negotiations between the ZHDA and the Ministry of Health as of November 2014,” the doctors said.
“The ZHDA categorically states it clear that should this erroneous decision be implemented in December 2014, it will not take responsibility for the harmful consequences attached to such a decision.
“We immediately call upon the relevant government officials and senior government officials to urgently act by summoning such officials in the Ministry of Health and Child Care who have been associated with this move.”
The association accused unnamed people of disturbing and disrupting doctors from discharging their duties.
“It is also sad to note that there are individuals who are bent on disrupting our hardworking doctors from discharging their duties particularly during this festive season considering that our doctors made a painful compromise of returning to work while their grievances were not yet addressed.”
Junior doctors downed their tools in October demanding a 400% salary hike. They also demanded an upward review of their on-call and housing allowances.
Senior doctors later joined the strike, forcing the government to the negotiating table, where parties agreed to resume duties while negotiations were going on.