By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Striking junior doctors have turned down Government’s offer to increase their on call allowances by 50 percent, calling for further engagement. In a statement issued yesterday in response to Government’s offer on Monday, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) said only dialogue could end the impasse between the two parties.
“We as the ZHDA have been waiting patiently for the minister and his team to come to the negotiating table so that a solution can be found for this impasse to enable doctors to return to work and avert avoidable deaths,” read part of the statement.
The ZHDA criticised Government for announcing the latest reviews as if they were agreed upon by all parties concerned, saying as junior doctors they did not agree on anything with Government.
According to the junior doctors, the contentious issue was on the number of hours they worked per month.
The doctors are arguing that they work 160 hours a month and were being paid $1,50 per hour, while Government negotiators insist that they work 72 hours a month and they are being paid $5 per hour.
The doctors are seeking an upward review to $10 an hour.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa (pictured below) reiterated his appeal to the junior doctors to return to work, saying what Government offered was what it could afford for now.
He said the health bipartite negotiating forum had been engaging with the doctors, but his office would also make an effort to meet and discuss with the doctors.
“The important thing is that what we have offered is what we can afford,” said Dr Parirenyatwa. “We have offered them 50 percent of whatever they are currently getting.”
Government has reviewed night duty allowance by 50 percent and promised to pay all outstanding locum claims.
It has also availed a $10 million revolving loan facility for all health workers.