AFTER so much euphoria about the revised salary offer for public service doctors, unions representing them have rejected it.
They have labelled the new proposal a "Mickey Mouse offer". Doctors have also indicated that a mass strike is now on the cards and is likely to happen on Monday.
Lebohang Phahladira, president of the SA Registrars Association, said yesterday: "After interrogating the revised offer we realised that the government cheated us.
"What government did was combine all the money that doctors are earning - such as scarce skills allowance - which was not part of the salary package, with overtime, basic salary and benefits, into one.
"It then added a few thousand to the package to make it look as if it had given us more money.
"When one interrogates the new packages it is clear that our salaries were increased by far less than was announced," said Phahladira.
On Wednesday Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi tabled a revised offer to the doctors, which was expected to end three months of wildcat strikes across the country that have crippled services at some hospitals.
The offer included an increase of between 31percent and 53percent for junior doctors. Initially doctors were demanding a 50percent increase across the board.
Chris Malikane, of Wits Business School, agreed with the doctors' unions that there was something fishy about the new offer.
He wanted to know why the government had not followed labour procedures when announcing the revised offer.
"It was the first time in South African history that the government publicly announced an offer before it was tabled in the bargaining chamber.
" I think doctors have been cheated because the figures are not adding up," said Malikane.
The Junior Doctors Association of SA also say the new offer is an insult.
"We have mobilised all provinces to join a mass strike," Judasa president Bandile Hadebe said.
Meanwhile, the new wage offer, set to cost more than R1billion, has been largely welcomed by economists, who say this would be money well spent.
Sapa reports that Pumulo Masualle, Eastern Cape MEC for health, has urged doctors at the Queenstown, Mthatha and Port Elizabeth hospitals to return to work today as negotiations over their pay increases continue.
Hospitals in the three towns have been running on skeleton staffs, said the health department.
Only emergency cases were being handled at a large Port Elizabeth hospital, while other patients were being referred to clinics.
Themba Hospital in KaBokweni, Mpumalanga, was only treating emergency cases after 81 doctors stayed away from work.