Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda warned yesterday that if doctors go ahead with their planned strike they will be violating the law because the matter is still being worked on by labour experts.
According to the Premier, the Commission for Mediation and Arbitration has ruled the matter be taken to the Labour Tribunal after the two parties failed to agree in some areas.
Pinda was responding to a direct Question by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament Freeman Mbowe who wanted to know how far the dialogue between the two parties has gone and what has caused doctors to call for another strike in the near future.
Mbowe who is also Hai MP said one of the doctors’ demands was the removal of the Minister of Health and his Deputy, Permanent Secretary and Chief Medical Officer… “This has been fulfilled and now the ministry has new people, but the problem seems to be persisting”.
According to Mbowe, the problem surrounding the doctors’ saga seems to be a system problem and not the ministry’s executives.
He asked the Prime minister to tell the public what issues the government has resolved with the doctors and what remained and why they have not reached a conclusion.
“We have been holding dialogue with doctors to ensure that their demands are resolved. A month ago we formed a task force to work on the doctors’ demands. It completed its work and submitted the report to the government.
“Out of ten demands made by doctors, five were resolved and five are outstanding. What we did was to ask the responsible ministry to sit with the doctors to decide what actions were to be taken in the areas which they disagree,” Pinda said
He said the Ministry efforts to meet with the doctors failed after they responded to a letter written to them that they have been in discussion with the government for three months and they don’t see the need of proceeding with dialogue.
He said following the response, the government decided to go back to CMA to get legal procedures on disputed areas.
“According to the reports I received the two parties went to CMA and the Commission decided that the matter be taken to the Labour Tribunal.
Pinda further said that most of areas which the doctors differed with the government could still be resolved through dialogue, but unfortunately there were not enough cooperation from the doctors to the new minister of Health.
He said some of the doctors’ demands which the government has fulfilled included removal of some ministry executives, payment of on call allowance and postmortem.
Pinda said the demands which were yet to be fulfilled included salaries, transport and house allowances among others.
But in Dar es Salaam, doctors vowed to call a non-stop countrywide strike on Saturday claiming the government is not working on their demands.
This comes after they once gave the government two weeks to come up with answers to their demands and accusing the Prime Minister of failing to work on their demands as promised before.
“It is very depressing to hear such a top official as the PM lying before the parliament that our demands have been worked on while on the other side there is nothing done,” said the Chairman of the Doctors’ Committee, Steven Ulimboka.
“There is no change to what we discussed before the committee formed by the PM. Some of our demands have been put aside leaving us at crossroads.”
For his part, the committee’s assistant chairman, Godbless Charles stressed: “We wouldn’t be talking anything here by now if the government had worked on our demands…we are not ready to be fooled again this time,” he said.
He mentioned some of the demands that have so far not been resolved as house allowances, green card, salaries and on call allowances.
In Mwanza doctors said they were ready to resume their strike on Saturday after the government through the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare failed to implement doctors demands of which they agreed upon.
Speaking yesterday at Bugando Referral Hospital, the representatives of Lake Zone Doctors Striking Committee Dr Richard Keritta blamed the government for the failure.
“We have been working tirelessly with the hope of fulfillment of the promises given to us in Dar es Salaam, but the government is playing a dirty game,” said Dr Keritta, adding that the planned strike will involve 102 medics, who include long service doctors, Assistant Medical Officers, specialist doctors and Registrar doctors from Bugando Hospital and the nearest hospitals, health centres in the lake regions.