State doctors, who are demanding a 50 percent salary increase, could return to the streets to protest against the government's proposed five percent raise.
A doctor told Sowetan yesterday that government negotiators tabled offers of between 0,28 percent and 5 percent at the bargaining chamber last week.
"They made it clear that there would be no increase above 5percent because there are no resources to meet the doctors' demands."
Doctors went on sporadic strikes three weeks ago but returned to work last week after the government agreed to start negotiations with their union, the SA Medical Association (Sama).
The doctors' patience was stretched to the limit after the government failed to implement the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) to improve their salary since last July, a heavy workload and unacceptable working conditions.
Health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe refused to confirm the government's offer but said the department was hopeful that the standoff would be resolved.
"Negotiations are going well. We a able to justify whatever offer is on the table. We hope to find common ground with Sama," said Hadebe.
Mac Lukhele of Sama said the offer was not acceptable.
He refused to disclose the figures, saying: "from a medical point of view what has been tabled is not rosy at all.
"We are going to report back to our members and get their views but what has been tabled will not be acceptable to our members. It will actually anger them."
Lukhele said research indicated doctors deserve a 50percent increase. The parties will meet again on May 11.