Slow start to doctor strike

2009-06-22 10:07

Durban - A small group of public sector doctors was picketing outside Durban's King Edward VIII hospital on Monday to demand better wages, an official said.

"The majority of doctors in KwaZulu-Natal will not be seeing patients and we encourage our members to be on the street," said Lebogang Phahladria, president of the SA Registrars Association (Sara), an affiliate of the SA Medical Association (Sama).

Phahladria told Sapa that the doctors would picket between 09:00 and noon and that 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.

"Our patrols have been sent there to monitor the situation," said Khuzwayo.

Some 20 doctors were picketing in the street outside the hospital by 09:00.

Pay 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.