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Doctors appeal Labour Court ruling, vow to continue with job boycott

by Staff reporter
13 Oct 2019 at 18:43hrs | Views
Doctors on Sunday vowed to continue their job boycott, despite last Friday's court ruling ordering them to return to work within 48 hours.

"While doctors would want nothing more than to return to work in service of their patients, they continue to be incapacitated and lack the resources to allow them to comply with the Labour Court judgement," the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said in a statement.

The work boycott, which the doctors deny is a strike, entered its 42nd day on Sunday.

The ZHDA, which represents over 1,600 junior and middle level doctors in public hospitals, was ordered by the Labour Court late Friday to cease their strike forthwith.

The Health Service Board, which employs the doctors, had asked the court to force them to get back to work, arguing that they were not allowed to strike because they provided an essential service.

The board is entitled to take disciplinary action against doctors who fail to comply with the order, the court said, adding that the two sides should seek arbitration within 14 days.

The ZHDA said it is appealing the court ruling at the Supreme Court.

"ZHDA continues to advocate for quality health services which includes adequately stocked hospitals and fairly remunerated staff. We remain hopeful that a sincere and lasting solution will be found," the doctors added.

The doctors have already said an offer to raise their allowances by 60 percent was "ridiculous" as it would take their monthly salaries to around 1,700 Zimbabwe dollars (US$111), well below their demand of a 400 percent salary hike.

The doctors also want their salaries to be indexed against the United States dollar, as the local currency continues to lose value.

Zimbabwe is grappling with its worst economic crisis in a decade, amid triple-digit inflation, rolling power cuts and shortages of U.S. dollars, medicines and fuel.

The doctors' strike has seen some patients being turned away without treatment.

ZHDA spokesman Masimba Ndoro said the doctors would not return to work.

"Our issue is very clear, doctors are incapacitated. Despite the court order, they can not go back to work until the issues on the table are addressed," Ndoro said.

Source - (Additional reporting Reuters)