HARARE – Doctors in Zimbabwe are voting to stage their first “all-out” strike in a fierce pay row with the government.
Doctors started casting their vote yesterday, with the majority said to be in favour of a strike.
They had threatened to conduct a 24-hour strike starting February 1, providing only emergency care, but have called off the action to allow for more consultations.
The planned strike, if not averted, threatens mass disruption and the cancellation of outpatient clinics and non-urgent operations.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) confirmed it has already started the consultations beginning with the Harare region.
“The executive met today (yesterday) with the Harare region to consult on the way forward and will move on to other regions,” ZHDA spokesperson Francis Rwodzi told the Daily News.
“We will have a position by the end of the week after we have also consulted other health practitioners.”
Rwodzi said there was no will on government’s part to resolve the doctors’ concerns.
“The position is that doctors are agitated, they feel let down by the employer,” he said.
“There has been lack of action to attend to the health workers’ needs. We believe government has the money to pay, but it’s just slacking.”
Health practitioners, together with other civil servants, were promised bonuses by the government, but that promise has not yet been fulfilled.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa had earlier in 2015 announced that government could not afford to pay bonuses but was later forced by President Robert Mugabe to withdraw his statement and make plans to pay.
The doctors have said if government reneges on its promise, they are certainly going to down tools this month.
“We embarked on a strike and after we were paid our December salaries we made a statement that we will not be able to render our services if our bonuses were not paid and we will down tools in February,” Rwodzi said in a previous interview.
“For the ministers to say bonuses are not a priority is ill-advised. Civil servants sacrificed and went to the holidays without their salaries and for all that sacrifice, we are pained by those reckless statements.”