GOVERNMENT is heading for a showdown with junior doctors at public hospitals after it ordered chief executive officers and provincial medical directors to deduct salaries of all junior doctors who took part in last month’s strike.
In a letter dated November 27 2014, Health and Child Care secretary Gerald Gwinji ordered hospital CEOs 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.
Part of the letter, which was also copied to the Health Service Board, read: “It is noted that junior doctors were on industrial action during the period 27 October to 14 November 2014. 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.”
Gwinji added: “Furthermore, retention allowances should not be paid for the days members were not on duty. Deductions should be effected on the December 2014 paysheet.”
But the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) yesterday condemned the move and accused government of insincerity in resolving public medical personnel’s grievances.
ZHDA in a statement, said: “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 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 doctors’ association further said: “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 whilst their grievances were not yet addressed.”
Junior doctors downed tools in October demanding a 400% salary hike from the current $250 per month.
They were also demanding an upward review of their on-call and housing allowances.
Senior doctors later joined the strike forcing government to the negotiating table where parties agreed to resume duties while negotiations were going on.