Doctors to vote on wage offer

The South African Medical Association (Sama) will this week hold secret ballots to determine whether its members accept or reject a revised occupation-specific dispensation (OSD).

Doctors countrywide had expressed dissatisfaction with aspects of the offer during informal polls held at recent roadshows, chairperson Denise White said in a statement on Monday.

It would follow up this week with a formal voting process via secret ballot to determine whether its members accepted or rejected the offer.

“On scrutiny of the details of the offer, it is evident that there are inadequacies and inequities that will impact negatively on some of our doctor cadres.

“Inter alia, the low percentage increases for the medical officer and specialist categories are extremely disappointing and unsatisfactory.”

She said doctor groupings constituted the backbone of the public-sector health system and must be given equitable consideration in the OSD offer, a revised salary scale that takes experience into account.

“The objective of the OSD is to retain those doctors already working in the public sector and to attract doctors into a career in public-sector healthcare.

“It is therefore essential that in implementing the OSD, all categories of doctor—juniors, registrars, medical officers, clinical managers, specialists and academics—are adequately and equitably remunerated to ensure that the objectives and spirit of the OSD are achieved.”

The Health Ministry tabled a new revised salary offer at the bargaining council last week. It applied to doctors, dentists, pharmacists, pharmacist assistants and emergency medical staff, many of whom had been staying away from work and holding pickets over their delayed pay increases and poor working conditions.

The OSD negotiation phase was concluded on June 30, and signed off by the employer. Sama and the labour unions involved in the bargaining process had until July 21 to make decide whether to accept to reject the offer.—Sapa

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