Govt Outlaws Prolonged Strikes By Health Workers
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week signed into law the Health Services Amendment Bill which among other things, makes it illegal for government health workers to embark on industrial action lasting more than three days.
The Health Service Amendment Act stipulates that during job action, government health workers must continue to provide emergency services.
Under the Act, the old Health Services Board (HSB) was upgraded to a full commission, that is, the Health Services Commission (HSC) which set health workers’ conditions of service.
Health workers are now independent of the Public Services Commission (PSC), just like the judiciary, defence forces and police.
The restrictions on the health workers’ right to strike are contained in Section 16A of the new Act which says health services shall be deemed an essential service as defined in the Constitution. It reads:
Notwithstanding anything in the Labour Act, the Health Service shall be deemed as an essential service referred to in section 65(3) of the Constitution.
No collective job action, whether lawful or unlawful, shall continue for an uninterrupted period of 72 hours or for more than 72 hours in any given 14-day period and notice of any collective job action must be given in writing 48 hours prior to the commencement of such collective job action.
The Act says anyone inciting or organising collective job action in defiance of the new conditions can be tried for a criminal offence and if found guilty fined up to level four or jailed for six months.
Government workers are permitted to go on strike but during job action, they must provide the skill, expertise, care and service to patients in a medical emergency or needing critical or intensive care. | The Herald