Public sector healthcare workers have resolved to resume duty after giving the Government a 14-day ultimatum to address their concerns.
Health workers across the country have been on strike since Monday in protest over low salaries and poor working conditions.
In a letter dated 24 June 2022, addressed to the chairperson of the Health Service Board (HSB), Health Apex Team leader Dr Tapiwanashe Kusotera said they have decided to call off the strike to prevent any further loss of life. The letter reads:
RESUMPTION OF DUTY PENDING FURTHER NEGOTIATIONS
Following our first Health Bipartite Negotiating Panel meeting on Monday, the 20th of June in which the matters of conditions of service were discussed, the Workers were disappointed to note that the Health Service Board had preferred to wait 14 months without engaging the workers until the workers had reached a point of despair and had no choice but to withdraw their service in a desperate attempt to draw the employer’s attention to the plight of the workers.
The workers are cognisant of the human cost of such actions.
It is never the intention of the healthcare workers to walk away from those who need their help.
We firmly believe that this could have been avoided had the Health Service Board meaningfully engaged the workers.
The workers were also disappointed to note that the employer did not present an offer at that meeting nor have they done so to date.
This morning, the leaders of the health associations met to assess the impact of our actions and progress towards the resolution of the impasse.
It was noted with great concern, the delay in further engagement by the employer and attempts by some authorities to threaten and victimise the workers.
This is most unfortunate. Asking for a living wage should never be viewed as a crime.
The employees also considered the long-suffering public who have struggled to access much-needed healthcare services in these difficult economic times.
Many of whom lack the means to seek health care services elsewhere.
The leaders of the Health Associations after considering the plight of the public, have resolved to TEMPORARILY adjourn the industrial action and request the healthcare workers to resume service.
This has been done to prevent any further loss of life.
It is the hope of the employees that the employer will immediately table a meaningful offer, addressing all the matters raised by the workers.
Should the employer fail to table a meaningful offer, one that addresses the plight of the worker within 14 DAYS from receipt of this letter, the employees will have no option left but to withdraw service without notice.
We have taken this decision in good faith, that the employer will engage with us.
We believe that the “ball” is now in the employer’s court Health APEX Council.
It is our sincere prayer, that any further industrial action may be avoided.
We hope that the employer will choose to partner with the workers to resuscitate Zimbabwe’s ailing healthcare system.