Doctors to study govt pay offer

2009-06-24 14:19
Doctors march over poor salaries. (Courtney Africa, Die Son).

Doctors march over poor salaries. (Courtney Africa, Die Son).

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Johannesburg - The SA Medical Association says it will study the government's pay offer tabled on Wednesday.

Sama negotiator Phophi Ramathuba said that at a glance, there were "areas where there are improvements", but she would not commit to whether the offer would be palatable to union members.

"What I can indicate is that it's only now that the employee has put the offer on the table... we want to study it.

"We will take it to our specialists who were assisting us with negotiations to study it and advise us on the interpretation and then take the offer back to our members for a final decision."

Ramathuba said this process should not take more than a day.

Unclear if doctors will remain on strike

She could not say whether doctors would remain on strike.

The Sama negotiator was reacting to an announcement on a revised pay package for doctors announced by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Pretoria.

Outlining the various packages still being negotiated at the Public Service Bargaining Council, Motsoaledi told a press conference the government did not have enough money to increase doctors' salaries by 50% across the board -- which is what the union had demanded.

The new packages would cost the government more than R1bn and would be implemented as of July 1, if accepted by the Sama, which represents most public sector doctors.

Meanwhile, patients in KwaZulu-Natal were turned away on Wednesday as doctors downed tools in protest against delays in implementing the occupation specific dispensation -- an adjustment of salary grades for public servants to reward their experience and skill level.

Doctors have threatened prolonged industrial action should government's offer not measure up to their expectations.

- SAPA

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