'Sama not backing strike by doctors'

AN illegal strike by doctors planned for this week was not authorised by them, SA Medical Association (Sama) said yesterday.

AN illegal strike by doctors planned for this week was not authorised by them, SA Medical Association (Sama) said yesterday.

"Sama cannot legally condone the strike," said spokesperson Norman Mabasa. "We are waiting to see whether or not it will happen."

Eastern Cape health department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said his department was aware of the strike threat but they were prepared for it. "We don't anticipate a total shutdown," said Kupelo.

He said the province employed about 2000 private doctors on a part-time basis. Those doctors could be called upon to fill slots left vacant by strikingdoctors.

Kupelo also claimed that doctors were not necessarily keen on a total shutdown. "We have been engaging with doctors and they would rather engage in a go-slow than a total shutdown," he said.

Sama represents almost 7000 of about 17000 public sector doctors. Mabasa said those threatening the strike were not Sama members though he acknowledged that union doctors might take part in the strike.

"They have been frustrated by the negotiation process," he said.

Public sector doctors have been at odds with the government, which they claim has not fulfilled its obligations under the Occupation Specific Dispensation.

The 2007 agreement on OSD outlined detailed deadlines for the implementation of the pay scheme. The OSD for all categories of nurses was meant to take effect from July 1 2007, and phased in over three years.

For medical officers, specialists, dentists, pharmacologists, pharmacists and emergency workers, the deadline was July 1 2008. - Sapa

X