Jhb doctors call off strikes

2009-06-22 22:15

Johannesburg - Possible strike action by doctors in Johannesburg hospitals on Tuesday has been called off, a city doctor said on Monday.

"In the morning we were very keen but the logistics of moving everyone [the patients] out of the wards would be difficult," said Marinus van der Westhuizen, an intern at Helen Joseph hospital in Johannesburg.

Van der Westhuizen said that after a vote, a majority of doctors at Helen Joseph wanted to strike. But he said that the hospital's management, which he described as supportive of doctors, needed more time to prepare for a strike.

It was also believed that a strike action at Helen Joseph would put additional pressure on doctors who were not participating in the strike at Johannesburg hospital and Chris Hani Baragwanath. In the end, they decided that negotiations should be given more time.

The SA Medical Association (Sama) represents doctors negotiating with government over the implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation. Both sides will meet again on Wednesday.

Sara says strikes still on

But strike organiser, SA Registrars Association (Sara) president Lebogang Phahladria said that strikes in Johannesburg were still on.

"Tomorrow I invite you to go to Helen Joseph hospital where no one will be seen," he said.

Phophi Ramathuba, a Sama negotiator in the sector's bargaining council, said she had been told that the government had resolved its problem of not being able to match a head count with the number of people on their payroll.

Earlier, Ramathuba had said the lack of a head count was threatening delays in the implementation of the OSD.

"They said they have done their head count," she said.

This provided a ray of hope for Wednesday's meeting, when the bargaining parties were due for their next meeting.

"I can't wait to see Wednesday so that we can resolve this."

Dbn doctors vow to keep going

Van der Westhuizen said doctors at Helen Joseph were reserving their right to strike.
"We decided to withdraw for now," said Van der Westhuizen.

But it might still occur if doctors are "not happy with where things are going".

Sama did not condone or condemn the pickets, and this had led to protests by affiliates, such as the one arranged by registrars on Monday.

On Monday, doctors in Durban picketed outside the city's King Edward VIII hospital and vowed to continue until Friday until their demands were met.

"This is not about us only, it's also about the people of South Africa who depend on the public health sector to save them," said Phahladria at the Durban picket.