/ 30 June 2009

Bargaining council optimistic about doctors’ wage talks

Wage talks to settle the impasse between government and doctors are ”within the settlement range”, the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council said on Tuesday.

General secretary of the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council, Mpumulelo Sibiya, said he was ”pretty optimistic” the matter would be settled on Tuesday.

”It’s a matter of finalising things now … I believe we are within the settlement range,” he said, declining to elaborate on what the outstanding issues were.

He was speaking shortly before talks were to resume between the two parties at noon.

The bargaining council’s general secretary Shamira Huluman said parties would have to come to an agreement by midnight.

”If there is an extension both parties would have to agree to it, but I don’t think it will come to that, there is an urgency to finalise things, especially on the doctor’s issue.”

June 30 was the date set aside by labour and the government to agree on the implementation of the occupation specific dispensation — meant to address salary increases according to experience and expertise for public servants.

By Monday, a key sector left to agree on the pay package was health. Talks continued early into Tuesday morning.

Failure to resolve the impasse has left the public health service in disarray with doctors across the country downing tools last week.

Some doctors continued with the illegal stayaway at hospitals countrywide. Media reports on Tuesday morning suggested the death of a patient in Johannesburg was linked to the strike.

Mavis Ncube (25) was turned away by several state hospitals after being hit by a car in Sandown on Monday morning. She later died.

Several doctors have defied court orders compelling them to go back to work.

Last week Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi presented a list of proposed increases for doctors. They had been waiting since 2007 for their salaries to be revised in line with the occupation specific dispensation. — Sapa