'We can find jobs'

GO BACK TO WORK: Yoliswa Mbele, acting head of the Department of Health, and MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal Sibongiseni Dlomo in the labour court . Pic: THULI DLAMINI.  26/06/2009. © Sowetan.
GO BACK TO WORK: Yoliswa Mbele, acting head of the Department of Health, and MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal Sibongiseni Dlomo in the labour court . Pic: THULI DLAMINI. 26/06/2009. © Sowetan.

KWAZULU-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo believes the fledgling doctors' strike that continues in the province is politically motivated.

KWAZULU-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo believes the fledgling doctors' strike that continues in the province is politically motivated.

Dhlomo said reliable information had revealed that doctors in the province had met other doctors in Gauteng and Eastern and Western Cape.

"It is the view of this government that we have complied with the Labour Relations Act, which among other things tells us that participating in a strike that does not comply with the act is a form of misconduct."

He said the government had been more than reasonable over the unprotected strike.

"We have continuously reminded the doctors of the negative consequences of an unprotected strike," Dhlomo said.

On Friday a labour court interdict declared the strike illegal. The department called on disgruntled doctors to honour the interdict and asked them to return to hospitals.

But the doctors' representative, Shilendra Sham, said the health professionals had discussed the court interdict but remained adamant that they would continue to strike.

"We'll also meet our lawyers to get a perspective so that we can make informed decisions," Sham said.

When asked whether the strike was politically motivated, Sham said this was a "blatant lie".

"It's not true that there is a political hand on the strike. KZN has never tried to influence other provinces to join the strike. Before we went on strike the departments' administration was informed in advance."

Sham also said there was no proof that patients had died as a result of the strike.

He said he was dismayed by the department's hostile approach and said if the department opted to fire the doctors they could find jobs anywhere else in the world.

"The department continues to drive [doctors] out of the system," he said.

Doctors, dentists, and pharmacists had participated in the illegal strike.

Meanwhile, religious leaders across the province appealed to striking health workers to return to work.

"It's our moral duty to become involved in saving the lives of our people," said Pastor Vusi Dube of the eThekwini Community Church.

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