HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwean junior doctors on Sunday called off a three-week strike saying the government had partially met their demands, a day before a one-day walk out by other public sector workers.
Doctors at public hospitals went on strike on Feb. 15, demanding annual bonuses, an increase in on-call allowances and cheaper cars. Nurses joined the strike last week.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said in a statement it had decided to end the strike after “seeing the plight of patients”. The government had deployed army medics to work at major public hospitals after the doctors walked out.
The government increased allowances to $360 per month rather than the $720 demanded by doctors, promised a car loan package and created 250 new posts for doctors with immediate effect.
“The ball is now in government court to deliver on promises and improve on doctors’ conditions of service, failing which, as the ZHDA we remain resolute that we will take decisive action to defend the best interests of the health profession in Zimbabwe,” the ZHDA said.
Zimbabwe’s public hospitals are struggling with shortages of medicines and have relied on support from mostly Western donors. Senior government officials, including President Robert Mugabe, often seek medical help abroad.
Mugabe returned early on Sunday from a medical review in Singapore, which drew criticism from opponents who say he has presided over the collapse of public hospitals at home.
Other public workers, mostly teachers, are expected to go on strike on Monday to push the government to pay 2016 annual bonuses that were due in December.
Cecilia Alexander, chairwoman of Apex Council, the top union for civil servants, said on Sunday workers would no longer hold a demonstration in the capital Harare as initially planned, but would instead go on strike.
Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; Editing by Ros Russell