'Reverse doctors dismissal'
Johannesburg - As doctors decide whether to accept government's revised pay offer on Thursday, calls increased for the reinstatement of those dismissed for taking part in an unprotected strike.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) called for the reinstatement of those dismissed after many provincial health departments were granted court interdicts compelling workers to return to work.
Those who failed to comply with the order faced disciplinary action or dismissal.
Medical sector unions were taking government's revised pay offer back to their members for endorsement.
Health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the government had not yet received an indication of whether the offer was palatable to union members, but added that labour had 14 days in which to make a decision.
Main stumbling block
Cosatu said the main stumbling block to settling the matter was the dismissal of doctors.
"Cosatu accepts that their strike was illegal, and supports the view that essential service workers should find other methods of resolving disputes... We concede that the strike has hurt the public.
"Nevertheless we appeal to the minister of health and provincial MECs for health to reverse the dismissals, so that we have only one issue on the table - the draft agreement on OSD [occupation specific dispensation] salary increases, and not the dismissals," the union federation said in a statement.
Hadebe said the dismissal letters issued to doctors stated they should provide a reason why they embarked on the illegal action.
He said government would look at the reasons provided by doctors and decide whether their dismissals stood or not.
On Thursday morning government called on doctors to return to work immediately, saying the action was doing "considerable harm" to the sector.
"The labour dispute is doing considerable harm, adding more strain to an already strained public health sector, and in the process depriving ordinary South Africans access to desperately needed health care," said government spokesperson Themba Maseko.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal doctors on Wednesday vowed to continue with the strike if government did not reinstate more than 200 fired doctors.
On Monday 244 doctors were served with dismissal letters by the KwaZulu-Natal health department. They were dismissed after they defied a Durban Labour Court interim interdict compelling health care professionals to return to their posts.
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