HON. DR. PARIRENYATWA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I will chronicle the events leading up to the industrial action and what has happened thereafter.
Nurse managers and nurse educators raised concerns in a meeting held in 2017 where they cited their low packages as compared to junior nurses, noting their critical responsibilities. The Health Services Board submitted a request to Treasury for funding of an equalisation allowance for health in order to address the issue of the nurse managers, including management or workers in management.
Treasury did not support this request. When workers were informed about Treasury’s position, they appealed for reconsideration of their case. The Board, working with the Ministry, identified areas where savings could be realised in order to fund the introduction of the equalisation allowance.
On 18th January 2018, the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) wrote to me citing concerns over the continued plight of the nurse managers and nurse educators. The Executive Chairman of the Health Services Board acknowledged receipt of the communication and on 5th February, 2018 gave a seven day final ultimatum to have their salary issues addressed, failure of which they would withdraw their services with effect from 13th February.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZIDA), in an updated letter addressed to the Executive Director Health Service’s Board, Permanent Secretary for Health and Child Care received on 18th January, raised minimum expectations within 100 days and these are the minimum expectations that the doctors raised,
· That the vehicle duty assisted framework agreed upon with the Health Services Board in 2017 be urgently implemented. No doctor should have to resort to public transport when they rush to respond to medical emergencies and on call duty.
· The current pathetic on-call allowances paid to doctors of $360 per month must be urgently reviewed upwards to $720 per month as per 2014 agreement.
· The third concern they raised was that the blanket fees for recruitment of doctors and other health workers must be urgently scrapped. Currently, we have one doctor per 250 000 people.
ZIDA requested that the Government delivers on the key demands within 100 days or else they would resort to industrial action for these issues to be resolved. As a Ministry, we believe that the doctors and the nurses have genuine grievances that need to be addressed by this nation. Negotiations for the review of the working conditions is done within the health services bipartite negotiating panel called the BNP which comprises health workers representatives and Government representatives. The issues from both the nurses and doctors were discussed in the BNP meetings and the contact person in all this had been Dr. Munatsi, the then President of the Hospital Doctor’s Association (ZIDA) who tendered his resignation to his association on 28th February, 2018.
Dr. Munatsi’s resignation followed a meeting with Executive Chairman of the Health Services Board held on 27th February, 2018. A new management of doctors took over and proceeded with industrial action. Before a deadlock was reached, 271 junior doctors withdrew their labour with effect from 1st March, 2018. The junior doctors, Mr. Speaker Sir, mostly junior resident medical officers in central hospitals and Government medical officers at Mutare Provincial Hospital were over the course of the past two weeks joined by junior and senior registrars. As at 20th March, 2018 a total of 391 doctors have withdrawn their services or labour and this figure, some of the doctors have withdrawn their labour for 21 days as at 21st March, 2018.
For nurses Mr. Speaker Sir, the nurses withdrew their labour with effect from the 16th March, 2018 and the withdrawal of labour was called off on the 18th March, 2018 just after two days after the signing of the BNP agreement on the 16th March, 2018. The BNP agreement was signed through the ZIDA representatives though the ZIDA representatives walked out, but they noted that there was a quorum.
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