Agreement reached to end doctors' strike

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pretoria - It's business as usual at all hospitals following an agreement reached between the Department of Health and the South African Medical Association (SAMA) to end the illegal strike by doctors with immediate effect.

During a meeting on Tuesday, all parties recommitted themselves to the negotiation process currently underway in the Bargaining Chamber.

The doctors, mostly from the George Mukhari Hospital, went on strike two weeks ago, complaining about the delay in the implementation of the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD).

They also complained about poor working conditions, which led to health care services being compromised in various part of the country.

During the strike, the South African Military Health Services medical personnel had to be deployed in some hospitals to assist.

Health Director-General Thami Mseleku said the doctors had agreed to return to work and to ensure that they would follow proper channels to address problems that they encountered.

"The Department of Health is relieved that the strike action is finally coming to an end. We have been very concerned as a department that the strike undermined our efforts to provide health care to our patients," Mr Mseleku said.

The department further agreed to withdraw the letters of dismissal served to the doctors after they defied a court order barring them from participating in an unprotected strike. The dismissals have since been replaced with final written warnings.

However, the department noted that the no work no pay principle will apply as it does in all strike actions.

The striking doctors also expressed relief that all matters they have raised will be attended to, thus allowing them to return to work.

SAMA's chairperson Proffesor Mkhululi Lukhele said the association was happy that the strike was coming to an end.

The strike caused much distress to the profession and the public who depend on their services, Proffesor Lukhele said.

The parties further committed themselves to allow the negotiation process to continue unhindered and expressed confidence in it delivering the outcomes in due course.