Doctors offered R1bn package

Resource type: News

Pretoria News (South Africa) |

by Mogomotsi Magome and SAPA

The Department of Health has offered to increase some doctors’ salaries by up to 60 percent from next month, in a bid to avert a nationwide strike that could cripple the public health system.

The increases proposed by the department at the Bargaining Council in Pretoria on Wednesday would require more than R1-billion from the Treasury.

Doctors have threatened to strike if they are not given pay increases of up to 50 percent.

This week saw doctors in KwaZulu-Natal come out on strike, leading to greater workloads for nurses and patients being turned away.

Doctors in other provinces have been staging pickets over what they say are ridiculous pay packages and terrible working conditions.

With the increases proposed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, the lowest-paid intern in the public sector would receive a 53 percent increase, taking their pay to R314 023 a year, or about R26 168 a month before deductions.

The highest-paid interns would receive a 31 percent increase.

Community service doctors who were contracted for a year would advance from a salary range of between R330 226 and R357 524 to a package of R392 599, which would be between 9.8 percent and 18,9 percent more.

Motsoaledi said the department was trying to address the salary disparities in the profession, and would also look at improving working conditions.

“For instance, in an attempt to retain skills, provinces and institutions ended up paying medical professionals different salaries in a desperate bid to retain and recruit, especially in rural areas,” he said.

“Some provinces advertise positions at higher levels and end up appointing junior doctors in those positions.”

Motsoaledi dismissed a number of figures given by interns as their minimum salaries. He said they excluded the benefits offered by the government.

Principal and chief specialists had been difficult to keep because of the demand for their skills in the private sector and overseas, Motsoaledi said.

The package paid to principal specialists would be increased by 25 percent, taking it to between R769 271 and R962 174.

Chief specialists would receive 29 percent more, taking their packages from R932 399 to R1,2m.

Registrars would earn up to R528 770, gaining between 18.3 percent and 60,1 percent more.

The lowest-paid would earn R446 853, compared with R330 226.

Cosatu said the government’s offer had been received with a “great sense of happiness”.

“We are very happy with the processes that are unfolding,” Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini said in briefing the media at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council in Centurion.

Negotiations about the details of the pay offer were to continue late into the night, he said.

The unions would then approach the doctors for a mandate on whether to accept the offer.

Cosatu urged striking doctors to return to work.

The SA Medical Association (Sama), which represents most public sector doctors, was cautiously optimistic about the offer.

Sama negotiator Phophi Ramathuba said that, at a glance, there were “areas where there are improvements”, but she could not commit to a statement on whether the offer would be palatable to union members.

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Issues:

Health

Global Impact:

South Africa

Tags:

health care, University of KwaZulu-Natal