Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter
Government and striking doctors are now heading for arbitration following the expiration of the 48-hour ultimatum given by the Labour Court last Friday.
Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the Labour Court had a provision for arbitration, which Government was now pursuing.
He said the process should be done within 14 days.
“The Labour Court ruling allows for arbitration; it makes life easy for everyone. There would be an arbitrator, who will be able to oversee negotiations.
“As part of that arbitration, we should be able to come up with results,” said Dr Moyo.
The minister said Government was still open for negotiations and hoped the arbitration process would break the deadlock.
“The process has to be completed within 14 days from the ruling. We had our team approaching the court to ensure that the process takes place, so this is the best form of negotiation for both parties and I think within 14 days, this whole process should have been completed,” said Dr Moyo.
For continuity of service provision, Government has made provisional arrangements for patients to be seen at local authority health facilities.
The arrangements include beefing up stocks and associated support for the clinics to be able to attend to the overwhelming number of patients, some of whom could have otherwise been treated at central hospitals.
Dr Moyo said Government had extended the free blood policy to local authority institutions for access by pregnant mothers in need of it.
“We have planned that we will empower the hospitals belonging to local authorities, especially in Harare and Bulawayo, and give them as much support as possible because they are becoming overwhelmed,” said Dr Moyo.
Speaking at the same occasion, Health Services Board (HSB) chairperson Dr Paulinus Sikosana said
Government was hoping the junior doctors were going to take heed of the court order and resume their duties.
Meanwhile, Dr Sikosana said the 60 percent adjustment recently awarded by Government to health all workers will not reflect on today’s payslip owing to some delays in the implementation process.
“By the time the adjustments were approved, the Salaries Services Bureau (SSB) had already shut down their payroll for October. We were then advised to seek supplementary funding from Treasury.
“The adjustment will however be paid before the end of October and will not reflect on tomorrow’s (today) payslip,” said Dr Sikosana.
Doctors downed tools on September 3 citing incapacitation.
Efforts by Government to lure them back to work have been in vain as the doctors demand a salary adjustment they say should be in line with the rate of inflation.