KZN doctors call off strike

KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) doctors on Thursday called off a strike that saw close to 300 doctors fired.

The doctors will resume work on Friday morning.

Doctors took a decision to suspend the strike after a marathon meeting with Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Sdumo Dlamini and South African Medical Association (Sama) representatives at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in Durban.

Dlamini spent more than an hour explaining the importance of suspending the strike.

He persuaded the striking doctors to end their protest, saying South Africa could not afford another day without doctors.

If the doctors agreed to suspend the strike, Dlamini said he would facilitate the process of reinstating the fired doctors.

The KwaZulu-Natal department of health fired doctors on Monday after they defied a labour court order compelling them to go back to work.

Dlamini said he would meet KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mhkize and provincial health minister Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo on Thursday afternoon to make sure the fired doctors were reinstated.

‘Unjustified conduct’
Earlier it was reported that there may be a legal glimmer of hope for the dismissed doctors.

“The labour court has previously held that the unjustified conduct of an employer prior to the strike is a valid consideration to take into account when determining the fairness of such a dismissal.

“Where employers provoke their employees into striking, the court will be more sympathetic to those employees striking illegally than it otherwise may have been,” said Johan Botes, director of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr’s employment law practice.

He said the department might have to explain why it had not implemented the occupation-specific dispensation (OSD) as agreed in 2007, and if no “reasonable explanation” was forthcoming, it might be compelled to reinstate the dismissed doctors.

“... considering the facts faced by the medical professionals, it is not improbable that they may find a sympathetic judge wishing to administer his own medicine to an apparently obstinate employer”, he said.

He added, however, that the doctors’ behaviour was “risky” and they should refrain from resorting to illegal industrial action irrespective of the legitimacy of their concerns, especially in the case of essential service workers.—Sapa

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