- Burundi’s doctors have embarked on a nationwide strike after the government failed to meet their salary demands, the workers union has said.
The health workers who have been on strike for more than two months, have also discontinued the emergency services in public health centres.
The workers who are currently earning an average salary of US$ 100 per month, are demanding an increment of up to $1,000 salaries per month, a proposal the government had outrightly rejected.
President Pierre Nkurunziza has accused the workers of politicising the pay dispute before elections scheduled for next year. The government said it had also offered to boost doctors' salaries by 150 percent, but said the union had rejected it.
Burundi’s public health sector has been hit by a number of strikes in recent past, with only 230 doctors serving more 8 million people claiming to be under paid yet they work under very abnormal circumstances and heavy workloads.
In December 2008, Doctors and nurses ended their month long strike after an agreement between their trade unions and the government. The workers decried the non-implementation of agreements signed in 2004 to upgrade the standards of health works in the country.
If the 2004 agreement could be implemented, it will significantly improve their living conditions, especially of the nurses who had complained bitterly about their poor wages.
But the government has been saying the workers' claims and grievances would only be honoured after a total cancellation of Burundi's debt. However, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have said the country needs to boost revenues before raising wages.
The current strike is the fourth held in the health sector since the beginning 2008 and has affected health services in the East African nation.
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