PSMAS workers engage bosses over working conditions

Health Reporter

WORKERS at Premier Services Medical Investment (Pvt) Ltd, the corporate backbone of the Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) yesterday met with their management to iron out outstanding issues that have been affecting operations, including delayed salaries and school fees allowances.

This comes as Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, who is also Health and Child Care Minister, this week said the Government would continue to support PSMAS, which provides the medical insurance for almost all civil servants, to enhance its ability to provide healthcare, maintain credibility with service providers, while ensuring that civil servants get access to health services.

The support is expected to extend to PSMI so that it is able to pay its workers, who run PSMAS, and procure medical drugs. 

This will be done while they await results of a forensic audit that has been ordered by the regulator of Medical Aid Societies into the PSMAS to ascertain if the medical aid society was abusing funds by engaging in non-core business.

These diversions from medical aid include gold buying and selling, microfinance and expansion outside the country’s borders all of which were drawing funds away from the healthcare services.

PSMI through PSMAS is the largest private healthcare service provider in Zimbabwe catering for the majority of Government employees who are members of the Premier Service Medical Aid Society through its hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and laboratories.

Over the last few months, the company has been at loggerheads with its employees who have been complaining over a host of staff welfare issues.

PSMI workers, through their lawyer Mr Michael Sambo, said the employees had requested an engagement with management to allow them to air out their grievances and help come up with lasting solutions to the issues.

“Workers on Thursday confronted management over issues such as delayed salaries, non-payment of school fees for their children among others and they requested for a formal meeting and that led to today’s meeting,” he said.

“All PSMI employees are entitled to school fees reimbursement but the company has not paid these two weeks after schools opened and their children are being sent away from school. Salaries for April were also delayed but some have started being paid. 

“However, the management came with the same stories they have been telling workers for some time and they are afraid that the company will continue mismanaging available funds and this might just contribute to making the workers’ situation worse,” he said.

Mr Sambo said employees were given a 45 percent salary increment last month but that money had already been eroded by inflation.

The company needed its own rescue plan to complement what the Government had promised to assist with to ensure problems being faced were eliminated.

“Until that happens, we will continue to see the same mismanagement that has been happening and workers will continue to suffer,” he said.

A spokesperson within PSMI confirmed that the meeting between workers and management had been conducted.

“There was a meeting of minds for the management and workers to get an appreciation of the current position. They came to an agreement on the situation. We can also confirm that salaries for April, which were delayed, have been paid,” he said.

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