Doctors: Next step labour court?

2009-07-03 12:42

Cape Town - Following their colleagues in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape medical professionals on Friday agreed to suspend their strike action but many feel the slightly adjusted salary package offered by the Department of Health should be rejected.

Doctors and pharmacists in the province met with Deputy Health Minister Dr Molefi Sefularo at Groote Schuur Hospital on Wednesday, after a request from the minister to plea with doctors.

Government's first salary offer was rejected by doctors across the country, who are demanding a 50% raise across the board - not just for interns who were prioritised in the salary hikes.

The continuing protest in the province since Friday June 26 has been against delays in implementing the OSD - an adjustment of salary grades for public servants in order to reward their experience and skill level. Doctors never received adjustments meant to start in July 2008.

The decision by the province's doctors was taken at meetings at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg Hospitals on Friday morning.

Doctors will go back to work with immediate effect, community service doctor, Jacque Botha, told News24.

The SA Medical Association (Sama) will host a national vote for all its members, to determine whether to reject or accept the latest offer.

"The feeling in the meeting here was that the offer should be rejected, but that was just a few hundred doctors at Groote Schuur," said Botha.

However the pay adjustments offered by the department, in consultation with unions in the bargaining council, was government's final offer.

The next step would be the labour court.

If Sama, which represents the majority of doctors in the public sector, chooses to reject the offer, there would be no further negotiations in the bargaining council.

"If the offer is rejected it will go via the arbitration route," said Botha.

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