Sama: Pay demand not arbitrary

2009-05-27 23:01

Johannesburg - The demand for a 50% salary increment for public sector doctors is not arbitrary, the SA Medical Association said on Wednesday.

The association was reacting to statements by the health department that "such a demand is arbitrary, condones a one-size fits all approach and will not address the disparities that the OSD (Occupational Specific Dispensation) seeks to address".

"This data was supplied to the then Minister of Health Barbara Hogan and that [department deputy director] Dr Percy Mahlathi now finds it necessary to criticise these figures is regarded with outrage by Sama, when in the midst of the bargaining process," said Sama spokesperson Adri van Eeden.

Van Eeden emphasised that these figures were based on careful research performed by an independent organisation, which had also advised other professions on the real value of their services.

Salary adjustments due July 2008

"No process can be started and then continued without a sound base, and this is precisely why these figures have been made available to the department."

The salary adjustments were due for implementation last July. But according to the health department, the delay was due to problems that arose in the implementation of the OSD in the nursing profession.

The department said it was now questionable whether Sama really wanted this matter resolved or not.

Taking exception to this statement, Van Eeden said: "Sama's commitment has been repeatedly demonstrated by the fact that despite the OSD matter having dragged on for two years, it has consistently persisted in obtaining adequate remuneration and better working conditions for our public sector doctors."

Substantial offer

She said they hoped the department committed itself to a "substantial offer" in the negotiating process and improved doctors' remuneration.

"The fact that doctors are angry is precisely because of these type of comments made by the Department, instead of focusing on speeding up the process around the OSD."

Sama members were expected to march in Pretoria on Friday and have threatened to continue with more strike action until their demands are met.

To keep doors open during the protest action could include using military medics and transferring critically ill patients to better staffed facilities, said health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe.