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Health sector showdown looms

by Staff reporter
26 Jun 2020 at 07:38hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT and striking health professionals are headed for a showdown after the Health Service Board indicated that it will not be able to pay salaries in United States dollars as demanded by the workers.

This comes amid an outcry over government splashing money on top-of-the-range vehicles for all commissioners and board members. Health workers are also disappointed by rampant corruption by senior government officials, including Health ministry officials among them Health minister Obadiah Moyo, who is implicated in looting Covid-19 funds.

Health workers withdrew their services last week demanding their salaries to be reverted to October 2018 packages, which were pegged in United States dollars.

The workers rejected a paltry uS$75 Covid-19 allowance offered by government last week and a 50% upward review of their salaries.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association secretary-general Enock Dongo said the nurses will not go back to work until government offers united States Dollar (USD) salaries.

"The position from our members that we will not be going back to work and that is it. Right now there are no nurses at Mpilo Hospital, Harare Hospitals and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, as well as other public institutions," he said.

"Those who have been going to work are those on probation, students, as well as nurse managers who are the sisters in charge, but they have indicated that they will no longer be going to work after today."

Acting Ministry of Health and Child Care permanent secretary Gibson Mhlanga this week directed all chief executive officers, provincial medical directors and directors, to document everyone not reporting to work.

"It is noted that some health workers have not reported for work beginning June 17, 2020. you are requested to provide daily updates on the situation on the ground in terms of service delivery and human resources coverage to HR directorate for consolidation," Mhlanga said in a memo.

Health workers and the rest of the civil service have been at loggerheads with government over salaries, which they say cannot sustain them and their families.

The prices of goods and services have soared to astronomical levels, with salaries being eroded by hyperinflation.

The Health Service Board told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that government does not have the capacity to pay salaries in USD, but would continue engaging health workers.

"Notwithstanding the payment of US$75 Covid-19 allowance as a temporary relief measure, government currently does not have the capacity to pay the full salary package or civil servants in USD," HSB Chairperson Paulinus Sikosana said.

"The Health takes note of the submissions by health workers with respect to the interim three month's cushion and 50% review of salaries and the uS$75 monthly allowance offered to civil servants. The offer does not preclude, which will remain on the table. to facilitate meaningful negotiations for a more comprehensive cost of living adjustment between HSB and health workers. Such collective bargaining is provided for in terms of SI 111 of 2006."

He said the HSB held informal discussions with some representatives of health workers to explain the interim cushion offered by government while emphasising that negotiations were still on the table.

Responding to the question on the board purchasing range rovers, while it was failing to cater for the workers' needs, Sikosana said the vehicles had been purchased by government as part of contractual conditions of service for Commissioners and board members throughout government.

"To this extent, the purchase did not come from either the HSB or the Ministry of Health budgets. After the purchase the vehicles were allocated to individual commissioners and board members as Personal Issue Vehicles (PIV) as is the standard practice for such conditions of service," he said.

According to this week's cabinet decision matrix update, the 50% salary review and the uS$75 CoVID-19 allowance recently awarded to civil servants by government is not part of the normal salary and wage review process.

"The increment was awarded on the backdrop of rising inflation, which was eroding the purchasing power of the ZW$ and the continued price increases. The normal salary and wage negotiations are expected to continue as normal, and should not be affected by the recently awarded salary increases," the update reads.

Source - newsday

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