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South African healthcare professionals march for better pay and conditions

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.b2256 (Published 03 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2256
  1. Pat Sidley
  1. 1Johannesburg

    Thousands of public sector healthcare professionals and emergency services workers in South Africa took part in demonstrations throughout the country last week to protest about low salaries and poor working conditions.

    Marches organised by the South African Medical Association took place in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. And Johannesburg’s emergency services workers shut down the city’s ambulance and fire services, claiming the council had failed to deliver on promised salary rises.

    In Pretoria, joined by sympathetic colleagues in private practice, about 4000 doctors headed for the offices of the new health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, who is the third person to occupy the post in a year.

    Dr Motsoaledi acknowledged the problem but did not commit himself to meeting all their demands. Doctors want average pay rises of 50%. A doctor in the first year of practice and saddled with loans earns less than 19 000 rand (£1500; €1700; $2400) a month before deductions. This goes up only marginally in a further compulsory two year period of national service and subsequently fails to acknowledge experience or length of service.

    Doctors also want an overhaul of the entire …

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