KZN doctors may keep striking

2009-07-01 22:18

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal doctors on Wednesday vowed to continue with their strike if government did not reinstate more than 200 fired doctors.

"We will continue with the strike even if government gives us a good offer, to show solidarity to our colleagues who have been fired," said Shailendra Sham during a press briefing in Durban on Wednesday.

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 healthcare professionals to return to their posts.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said his department would get doctors from other countries to fill vacant posts. He said fired doctors would be allowed to reapply.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Sham said striking doctors would not go back to work if fired doctors were not reinstated.

Heads of department also fired

The government signed a revised pay offer for public sector doctors on Tuesday in the hope of ending weeks of picketing and strikes that saw many hospitals turning away patients.

Reading a prepared statement, Sham said that among doctors fired were three heads of department at KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson Mandela School of Medicine, specialists, principal medical officers, registrars in specialist training and interns.

The department on Wednesday said a majority of doctors who previously participated in a strike were back at work. It called on doctors who had legitimate claims to prove that they had been working and had been erroneously put on the absentee lists and thus received letters of dismissal to come forward.

The department said most of eThekwini's hardest hit hospitals, were returning to normality. Attendance was between 60% and 85% on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Med school teaching on hold

Sham said the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine’s medical faculty had expressed its full support for the mass action, saying that heads of department had resolved to stop working until fired doctors were reinstated.

"Medical school teaching has been put on hold in the absence of these clinical heads. The medical students have been angered by the dismissal of their colleagues and have also expressed their support," he said.

He dismissed reports that there was a political motive and third-force behind the strike.

"It is also not true that non-striking doctors have been intimidated. It has always been clear that the decision to engage in mass action is left to the individuals. The decision will always be respected."

Doctors went on strike last week to protest against poor pay and working conditions. The striking doctors have set up an SMS line to raise funds to cover their legal costs.