Dept conducts head count of KZN doctors

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pietermaritzburg - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is currently conducting a head count to establish how many doctors reported back for duty on Monday following a court interdict granted over the weekend.

Department spokesperson, Chris Maxon told BuaNews on Monday that some doctors were back at their work stations while others did not turn up.

"We are not sure at the moment how many doctors are back at work. We are doing a head count at all 70 hospitals, including 200 clinics, to establish how many heeded the court interdict," Mr Maxon said.

The department sought a court interdict from the labour court, ordering the doctors to end their illegal strike, giving them an ultimatum to report for work on Monday.

Mr Maxon warned doctors who failed to heed the call to report back for work, that they might be arrested as they would be in contempt of court.

"Disciplinary hearings might also take place. We urge them to honour a court order and return to their posts," Mr Maxon told BuaNews.

Meanwhile, doctors in the Eastern Cape have also been ordered to return to work on Monday or face legal action.

Department spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, said a principle of no work no pay has been implemented by the department for the number of days doctors were away from work.

He also warned that interns, who are also on strike, have been reminded that if they don't fulfill their prescribed hours, they will not be issued with qualifications.

The doctors in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape embarked on an illegal strike complaining about the delays in the implementation of the Occupational Specific Dispensation, which is an adjustment of salary grades for public servants.

The doctors have rejected government's revised offer, which could see some receiving a salary increment of up to 60 percent.

Announcing the new offer last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the new package, which has been tabled at the Public Service Bargaining Council was expected to cost around R1 billion and would start as of 1 July, if the offer is accepted by the South African Medical Association (Sama).

Minister Motsoaledi said the proposed offer will see unequal salary structures collapsed and as part of the new offer, interns will receive increases of between 31 percent and 53 percent.

The salary package for Medical Officers (Community Service) who are contracted for a year, will move from a range between R330 226 - R357 524 to a total salary package of R392 599, which represents a differentiated increment ranging from 9.8 to 18.9 percent to address the inequalities.

Salaries for Principal and Chief Specialists (Professors) have also been increased to 29 percent.

The package for Principal specialist has been moved from R769 271 to R962 174, which represents a 25.1 percent increase, whilst the package for Chief Specialists moved from R932 399 to R1.2 million, which represents a 29 percent increase.

The salary negotiations at the Bargaining Council between the department and Sama are still continuing.