Unpaid doctors, nurses down tools



MASERU – The Coalition of Health Professionals said yesterday starting today they will not be going to work over delayed salary payments. The coalition comprises nurses and doctors employed by the government. The workers told Public Eye yesterday that they were last paid their salaries on March 16 after which the Ministry failed to meet its obligation last month and never explained this until April 21 when the Public Service issued a statement blaming a technical fault for salary delays. This was after the coalition released a statement on Wednesday this week warning that they will not be reporting to work from today due to non payment of their salaries for the month of April.

The health professionals said reaching the drastic decision was not easy but they were forced to do so as the Ministry of Health is not clearly communicating with them as to why they have not received their salaries yet. “We were last paid our salaries on March 16th but the Ministry failed to meet their obligation for the past month and without any explanation or communication on what could possibly be the hindrance to our salaries being paid.  “The livelihoods of our members depend on their salaries and failure to the payments being made has caused some of our members to lose their accommodation and they are also struggling to even make it to work because they do not have the funds to do so, and as such, we will not be reporting to duty from Friday until the matter is resolved by the Ministry of Health.

“And to the public that we serve, we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience that this is going to cause and ask that you bear with us during this time while we try to get this sorted. We are hopeful that the matter will be resolved as soon as possible so we can go back to helping our communities,” read the statement.

Coalition of Health Professionals Deputy Public Relations Officer Dr Mojakisane Ramafikeng said it is the employer’s responsibility to see to it that they communicate with the employees in cases where there are problems with paying salaries.  He said if the employer realised that there was going to be a delay in their payments, they should have warned them in advance so as to avoid conflicts. He said he believes employees should be treated with respect if an employer cares for his employees.

“We are not doing this on purpose but we really are stranded. We do not have transport money to come to work and some of our members have lost their accommodation due delays in paying rent. “We are not saying we will go on strike, we are saying that we will not go to work because we have no funds to do so. Our hands are tight, we have nothing else to do,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health Selibe Mochoboroane said that indeed the workers have not been paid yet, and neither has he.  He said those who have the correct information about this issue are the Ministry of Public service as well as the Ministry of Finance. He added that the Minister of Public Service Richard Ramoeletsi had indicated in parliament that the delay is caused by systematic problems on the EFMIS system used by the government to pay servants. “By April 23rd civil servants had to received their payments but to date none of them have been paid and we know that civil servants normally earn from around the 23rd. All the civil servants have not received their salaries, it is not only those from the Ministry of Health,” Mochoboroane said.

In line with this, the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Employment had on April 21 issued a statement warning that there would be a possible delay in payments of salaries for the month of April, 2023. They said the delay was due to systematic and technical problems encountered during implementation of new cost codes for merged ministries.  Officers responsible for processing salaries have been and are working overtime and over the coming weekend to meet the deadline for payment of the salaries. In addition, the 2.5 percent cost of living adjustment increase will be implemented in May, 2023 including April arrears, the statement read.

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