President Emmerson Mnangagwa has signed into law the Health Services Amendment Act which bars healthcare workers from embarking on strikes that last more than three days.
Over the years, healthcare workers have embarked on prolonged strikes citing poor working conditions and low wages, a situation that left the already burdened health system in dire state.
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.
“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,” reads part of the Act
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.
Stakeholders have however, dismissed the Act saying it does not address challenges that are being faced in the health sector.
The country has witnessed mass exodus of healthcare workers who include doctor and nurses leaving hospitals understaffed.