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THE government is expected to offer public service doctors a 15 percent pay hike tomorrow - but spread out over three years - say sources close to the negotiations.
The doctors had rejected an earlier offer of increases of between 2percent and 5percent, depending on their grade. The medics are demanding a 50percent pay increase and the immediate implementation of the long-promised occupation specific dispensation plan they were promised in 2007.
But yesterday the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council said it was sceptical about the revised offer.
"It would be a dramatic turn if government increases its offer to 15 percent.
"We know they are going to push it up, but as to by how much is difficult to say. I guess we all have to wait and see what they bring to the table tomorrow," said the bargaining council's secretary-general Mpumelelo Sibiya.
Hundreds of doctors in KwaZulu-Natal started an illegal strike yesterday.
They picketed outside King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban demanding the immediate implementation of OSD, which covers pay increases and career progression.
Other hospitals affected by the strike included RK Khan, Addington, Osindisweni, Prince Mshiyeni Memorial, Wentworth, King George, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial, Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central, Stanger and Greys.
Services were, however, not disrupted at big hospitals in Gauteng and Limpopo.
In Johannesburg, the situation was normal at Charlotte Maxeke, Johannesburg Academic, Helen Joseph, Chris Hani-Baragwanath and Steve Biko Academic hospitals.
But that is likely to change today because about 120 doctors at Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa hospitals said they would be protesting outside the premises for the whole day.
They will, however, make their ward rounds between 7am and 10am.
In Limpopo, the health department said it was relieved that doctors had not joined the strike. The department has vowed not to pay striking doctors. "We are happy that every doctor heeded our call to take issues of Batho Pele principles as a priority," said spokesperson Sophy Sekole.