Hundreds of doctors striking

2009-06-22 12:00

Durban - Hundreds of angry public sector doctors demanded better wages on Monday at a picket outside Durban's King Edward VIII hospital.

The group, carrying placards and singing, said they wanted their concerns to be acknowledged and attended to.

"We also want support from the public in our battle because it's their lives we save every day," said protester Jeffrey Hadebe, who is a doctor.

"Why is it that when municipal workers strike, they get what they want, but when doctors strike, it's a problem?," he asked.

Most public hospitals closed

Lebogang Phahladria, president of the SA Registrars Association (Sara), an affiliate to the SA Medical Association (Sama), told Sapa the majority of doctors in KwaZulu-Natal would not be seeing patients on Monday.

He said most public hospitals in the Durban metro area would be closed.

The president of the Junior Doctors Association, Bandile Hadebe, was also expected to make his way to the province on Tuesday to address the doctors.

Metro police spokesperson Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo said there was no application for a legal strike, but that they were informed of a picket outside the hospital.

"So far, it has been very peaceful with no violence being reported. Our patrols will continue to monitor them," she said.

A few hundred doctors had gathered outside the hospital by 10:30.

OSD dispute

Public sector doctors have been at odds with the government, which they claim has not fulfilled its obligations under the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD).

The 2007 agreement between the government and public sector workers on the OSD outlined detailed deadlines for the implementation of the pay scheme. The OSD for all categories of nurses was meant to take effect from July 1, 2007 and phased in over three years.

For medical officers, medical specialists, dentists, pharmacists and emergency workers, the deadline for the implementation of the OSD was July 1, 2008.

The agreement also stated that the negotiation processes had to be finalised two months before the stipulated implementation date, which failed to happen in most sectors.