Talking better than striking, says doctor

THE GOVERMENT must find a better way of resolving workers’ disputes without ending up in strike action as this is counter productive to national development, says Zambia Medical Association president Aaron Mujajati.

Dr Mujajati said health workers do not enjoy going on work stoppage but that circumstances force them to take such action against their own professional ethics.

He said there was need for the Government as the employer and the employees to develop an understanding of each other’s plight in reaching consensus on various issues.

“Industrial action is not the best way of resolving labour disputes whether as employers or as employees, which is why we did not agree to the firing of nurses and neither did we support the strike action, because either way, it is the patients that have suffered,” Dr Mujajati said.

He explained that the health sector was already understaffed and that the firing of the 500 nurses in 2012 had only worsened the situation with increased suffering of patients.

He said the strike action had implications on the patients’ welfare but that the decision to dismiss the nurses caused more suffering on the already distressed sick people.

“Heath workers do not enjoy going on strike, but because they are pushed to the limit, and ultimately it is the patients that suffer,” he said.

Dr Mujajati however admitted that the discipline levels in the health sector had dwindled with some individual action painting a bad picture of the profession in Zambia.

He said as ZMA, they did not support the strike, neither did they approve of the heavy- handed action from Government to fire them.

“Government as the employer must ensure they provide a good work place with adequate utensils and medical facilities for the workers to deliver, as well as good remuneration for the workers.

“And also the workers must provide the care and services as per professional requirements and not bring in personal feelings and frustrations into the work place,” he said.

ZMA has since advised Government to reinstate the nurses and also to come up with a method of resolving labour disputes quickly before workers decide to strike.