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 Strike threat by doctors over salaries

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PosOnderwerp: Strike threat by doctors over salaries   Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:53 pm

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POWDER KEG: Phophi Ramathuba says doctors had expected a better offer. Photo: Sydney Seshibedi </TD></TR></TABLE></TD></TR>
A STRIKE is looming in the public health sector and the South African Medical Association says it will not stop its members if they decided to down tools.

Public service doctors have indicated they will go on strike soon unless the government met their demands.
The more than 7000 practitioners are not happy with this year’s Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD), which includes salary increases. The doctors say the final offer signed by the employer on June 4, with respect to the OSD addendum, was not what they had agreed on.
The signed offer was intended for categories of medical officers grades 1 to 3 and specialists grades 1 to 3. They will get between 1,5 percent and three percent salary increases respectively.
Dr Phophi Ramathuba, chairperson of the Public Sector Doctors Committee, said: “These are the categories in which the majority of them received below par increases with last year’s OSD.
“We anticipated a far better offer that would begin to address the inequities of the OSD for these job categories. We believe we failed to negotiate and deliver what our members requested, largely due to the complexity of the bargaining process.
“OSD must be as it implies, occupation specific. The current OSD negotiations are multi-occupational.
“This presents a dual problem where the employer gives you a lower offer and fellow unions accept it against your express mandate,” Ramathuba added.
Sama members held meetings in different provinces last weekend to express their disappointment at the employer’s offer. The issue of the strike was raised and supported by many.
Ramathuba said the implications of this offer could have a negative impact on the already ailing health system.
“Since implementing phase one of the OSD last year, Sama has seen an exodus of doctors from the public sector. It’s due to a lack of commitment in addressing them. But we call upon our members to uphold the high standards of clinical care. They must transfer accountability to those who were elected and appointed as stewards of the public healthcare system,” Ramathuba said.
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PosOnderwerp: Labour declares dispute with state   Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:06 pm

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Talks stall over wages, housing allowance</TD></TR></TABLE></TD></TR></TABLE></TD></TR>
TALKS between public service unions representing 14 unions and about 1,3 million state employees have deadlocked.

Unions yesterday declared a dispute.
Unions affiliated to Cosatu and the Independent Labour Caucus said the dispute had been declared “as a result of the employer’s intransigence and inability to meet the demands of labour”.
South African Police Union spokesperson Oscar Skommere said: “The offer on the table is far below what we are demanding. This is a cat-and-mouse game we are playing.
“It is frustrating and we cannot go to our members with this.
“We will do everything in our power to ensure that we avoid exploitation.”
He warned the government not to even try using the ongoing World Cup to keep them from exercising their right.
“It would be a terrible mistake,” he said.

The state’s latest offer proposed a general wage increase of 6,5percent and an increase in the housing allowance from R500 a month to R620 a month.
Unions have given the employer three options:

<LI>10,5percent and a R1000 housing allowance;

<LI>9percent and a R1100 housing allowance;

<LI>8,5percent and a R1200 housing allowance.

Sadtu spokesperson Mugwena Maluleke said they expected an external facilitator to be appointed urgently.
“If we fail to reach agreement we will have no choice but to exercise our rights. We will either embark on mass action or withdraw services. But we want to give these negotiations a chance,” Maluleke said.
The unions and ILC said in a statement it was “regrettable” that on the eve of the World Cup negotiations had regressed to a point where labour had no option but to declare a dispute.
“We refuse to be blackmailed by the employer because of the World Cup, and we will fight until our demands are met,” the parties said.
“Labour did everything in its power to avert this, but the latest developments left us with no alternative.
“Such a negative approach by the employer is definitely not conducive to sound labour relations and the establishment of a positive perception in the eyes of the international world.”
The parties said the employer was out of touch with the reality of existing conditions in the country.
“Workers are struggling to keep up with the spiralling increases in municipal rates and taxes caused by the 24,5percent in electricity tariff increases.”</LI>
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PosOnderwerp: Union warns over free education   Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:10 pm

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THE National Teachers Union says IFP-aligned student movement Sadesmo’s call for the minister of basic education to start implementing free education in government schools should be treated with caution.

Natu spokesperson Allen Thompson warned that the lack of circulation of funds within the “no-fee schools” led to the lack of acceptance of financial responsibilities.
“If schools are to be regarded as no-fee schools, then they should fall under Section 21 status, whereby they will receive funding from the government for maintenance and other expenses .”
He said they support any idea that contributes to the development of education and urged Sadesmo to use its political ties to influence Parliament’s decisions.
Sadesmo president Ntuthuko Majozi said they were waiting for the World Cup to end before arranging a meeting with minister Angie Motshekga.
He said they were aware of existing no-fee schools but insisted they were not addressing the issue of access to education. “We demand free education from Grade 1 to Grade 12 .”
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PosOnderwerp: Re: Strike threat by doctors over salaries   Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:34 pm

Strikes 'a democratic right'

2010-06-17 19:27

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Johannesburg - Asked before the World Cup what he would do about strikes, the tournament's chief organiser Danny Jordaan was emphatic: "Nothing. Strikes in this country are a hard-won democratic right."

To its foreign visitors, the industrial unrest that has dogged stewarding and transport at South Africa's hosting of the football World Cup may appear an embarrassment.

But to many South Africans, it demonstrates a break with the past tradition of a master-servant relationship that endured during the apartheid era.

Ever since the first democratic government came to power in 1994, the main Cosatu labour federation has been one of the pillars of a tripartite alliance.

The trade union movement was at the vanguard of the struggle against white supremacist rule and many of its leading lights went on to become key players in the new South Africa - not least Jordaan, a former student leader who became a lawmaker before becoming involved in the politics of football.

Respect for workers' rights

At a FIFA press conference this week, a Chinese journalist made the point that workers who protested during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing would have been arrested.

But organisers know that such an approach simply would not work in South Africa, given both its history and the attitude of many within government.

During a pre-World Cup road show in March, Jordaan told a questioner not only that his committee would not try to halt strikes but also pointed out that "we had strikes during the stadium construction and we didn't try to stop them."

As the dispute over stewards' pay spread earlier this week, Jordaan's tune had changed somewhat as he called the disruption of match-day proceedings "unacceptable".

But he still laced his comments by stressing his "respect for workers' rights".

According to Patrick Craven, a veteran Cosatu official, the idea of a strike during the tournament should not be thought of as an embarrassment but rather as a sign of progress in a fledgling democracy.

"Most people write about this as if it brings discredit to South Africa but a strike - provided it is justified, it's for a good reason - shows we are a constitutional democracy where rights are respected," Craven told AFP.

One of the most powerful weapons of the anti-apartheid movement was the withdrawal of labour, with strikes by the National Union of Mineworkers seen as a key factor in bringing the regime to the negotiating table.

The NUM's former secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe is now the country's deputy president and the government has been largely silent about the strikes despite announcing an agreement on the eve of the tournament that unions would not down tools during the World Cup.

Union influence in government

Dirk Kotze, an analyst at the University of Pretoria, said that the union influence in the government is part of the reason for the government's stance.

"Cosatu is a very strong component of the governing alliance," he told AFP.

"If the government tried to prevent (the strikes), it would certainly be criticised by Cosatu.

"Our labour legislation is quite well developed. If the unions took them to the labour court and the constitutional court, the government may well lose."

During the programme of stadium construction, a series of strikes halted building work - sometimes for weeks at a time.

Whatever frustrations he may have felt, FIFA president Sepp Blatter was advised against applying the stick approach to workers and they were instead given the carrot of tickets to matches to complete the job on time.

"I told them that they are the real workers, stone by stone," said Blatter when he visited Durban's Moses Mabhida stadium after a halt to work there.

Craven regarded the current media interest in industrial unrest with a degree of scepticism, saying labour protests were a fact of everyday life in modern South Africa.

"It's purely because they have happened during the World Cup they have become an issue," he said, denying that the law was unduly tilted towards the right to strike.

"The laws in this country were based on a consensus - between government, business and labour."
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