….Defiant doctors vow to boycott disciplinary hearings ordered by HSB
HARARE – Striking doctors snubbed the government on Wednesday by insisting they would not attend disciplinary hearings ordered by the Health Services Board (HSB), their employer.
Doctors at public hospitals are well into their second month of a jobs boycott after rejecting an offer of a 60% pay rise from the government.
The strike, which the labor court declared illegal, paralyzed hospitals and blocked patients.
The HSB withheld the salaries of doctors who failed to show up for work and also summoned them individually to disciplinary hearings.
In a letter to HSB on Wednesday, the doctors expressed their defiance.
“This is to inform you that unfit doctors across the country will not be able to attend disciplinary hearings and that all threats must stop immediately to clear the way for dialogue if an interbank rate offer is made,” the doctors said in their letter.
Doctor Mthabisi Anele Bhebhe, one of the leaders of the doctors’ union, said the doctors demand that the government return to the date it last paid salaries in US dollars in February and convert the salaries received to the time at the prevailing interbank rate.
“Time should not be wasted believing that the doctors are afraid of the so-called disciplinary action and therefore will return to work in fear,” he said.
“No amount of intimidation will deter us. Our existence and that of those who depend on us is at stake here. We demand wages in US dollars.
The bankrupt government is facing pressure from other public sector workers, who have made demands similar to those of doctors.
After adopting the US dollar in 2009 after the local currency disappeared due to inflation, Zimbabwe took steps towards a new currency in February this year when the backup currency, the RTGS/Bond Note, the floated against the US dollar. Beginning of bleeding on wages.
In June, the government announced the return of the Zimbabwean dollar as the sole legal tender, and the new currency quickly depreciated, triggering a wave of price hikes. Wages have not kept pace, impoverishing workers who say they are now unable to provide for their families.
Teachers announced last week that they would work a two-day week. Nurses are already in a three-day work week as transport costs have risen.
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