Striking doctors must now respond to final pay offer

THE government says it has signed its "final offer" on the occupation-specific dispensation for public service doctors - and that unions have two weeks to accept or reject its offer.

THE government says it has signed its "final offer" on the occupation-specific dispensation for public service doctors - and that unions have two weeks to accept or reject its offer.

The Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council, which was negotiating on behalf of doctors, said the ball was now in the court of the unions.

"The government is sticking to the revised offer tabled on Wednesday last week.

"Unions are now tasked with informing their members about the final offer. They have about two weeks to decide on whether they accept it or not," said Mpumelelo Sibiya, the council's secretary-general.

The government offered interns salary increases of between 31percent and 53percent. Doctors doing community service will receive 9,8percent to 18,9percent. Registrars' salaries will go up by between 18,3percent and 60,1percent, while principal specialists will get 25,1percent and chief specialists 29percent, respectively.

The South African Medical Association (Sama), one of the unions representing doctors, has said it might accept the offer but would have to allow its members to decide.

Sama's Norman Mabasa said: "The only thing that is left is for us to report back to our members today. We are hoping they will accept the offer and return to work."

The South African Registrars' Association, which organised the wildcat strikes, preferred not to comment at the end of the marathon negotiations yesterday.

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