Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government has ordered all health institutions to provide transport or bus fare to health workers in critical areas between January 1 and 5, 2016 to ensure that all departments remain functional, Secretary for Health and Child Care Dr Gerald Gwinji has said.
He made the order on Tuesday to all chief executives and provincial medical directors, following threats earlier by nurses and doctors to stop reporting for duty on December 31 if they did not receive their salaries before the end of this year.
“Following the threat of work stoppage by some health workers over late payment of December 2015 salaries and the attendant transport challenges, you are hereby requested to make contingent plans to ensure that all hospital critical areas are adequately staffed and remain functional during the period 1 to 5 January 2016.
“All institutions are required to provide support to health workers in critical areas by providing transport or bus fare.
“As usual, my office will require a daily update on coverage from all stations during this period,” said Dr Gwinji.
Earlier, Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa pleaded with the nurses and doctors to put patients first and be patient while his ministry engaged the appropriate ministry for payment of December sal- aries.
The Ministry of Finance last week announced that civil servants outside the education sector would be paid their December salaries on January 5 2016.
These revelations did not go down well with the civil servants who claimed that they did not have money to travel to work as they await payment of their December salaries.
Those in the education sector were paid on Tuesday.
Yesterday, the Public Service Association urged Government to do all in its power to ensure that all civil servants are paid before the end of the year to avert a looming showdown with employees come January 1 2016.
PSA president Mrs Cecilia Alexandra said her association was under pressure from its members who were also contemplating downing tools if Government sticks to paying them on January 5.
“We want to urge Government to do all in their capabilities and pay all civil servants before the end of the year. We are under so much pressure from our members who are saying they cannot wait until next year. People want to go on strike,” she said.
Mrs Alexandra said workers have tried to engage with Government on the new payment dates but to no avail.
“We feel that Government is undermining worker representatives as no consultation was done with regards to the shift of payment dates only to see a Press release in the newspaper.
“We tried to engage Government with regards to the latest development but we only secured an appointment for January 6,” said Mrs Alexandra.
She said in the absence of that dialogue, workers have no other option but to join their counterparts in the health sector to down tools as they await payment of their December salaries.
Mrs Alexandra reiterated calls by other civil servants worker organisations that workers have no money for transport to report for duty between January 1 and 5 2016.
“You may recall that there was no increment in 2015 and as if that was not enough Government introduced a fare of 50c to its buses this month. Where do they expect civil servants to get the money?” she said.
Mrs Alexandra said the rest of the civil servants who are not in the education or health sectors were being sacrificed as their grievances were not usually attended to.
“It seems as if there are other civil servants who are more important than others and our constituency has always been on the receiving end,” she said.
Government nurses and doctors have since notified Government of their intention to stop reporting for duty today if they do not get their salaries this year.
Teachers have also weighed in demanding bonuses as promised and their other grievances such as remittance of contributions to Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS), among others to be addressed.