17.1.2013

Mozambique doctors end pay strike

Maputo - Striking doctors in Mozambique ended a nine-day work stoppage on Tuesday after signing a deal with the government for a pay raise, their leader said.
“We have a memorandum of understanding... and as of April we will have a new salary bracket,” Jorge Arroz, the president of Mozambique’s Medical Association, told AFP. But no details of the pay hikes have been reached yet. The doctors downed tools last week on Monday arguing their pay cheques had not increased in real terms over the past 20 years. Government officials called the strike illegal. “Nothing is concrete but the principle is clear,” Arroz said, explaining there was an understanding that medics deserved salaries as high as court judges. Local media last month reported that doctors were demanding a basic monthly wage of US$3 000, while the government was said to be offering US$2 000. Military doctors had been deployed during the strike, especially at main hospitals, and patients spent longer queuing to be seen.

Mozambique has a total of 1 200 doctors in both public and private practice countrywide, with a ratio of one doctor to 22 000 Mozambicans. Right to the end of the dispute, there were contradictory versions as to how many of the 1,274 doctors in the national health service were on strike. The Ministry downplayed the impact of the strike, claiming that 20 per cent or less of doctors had not turned up for work, while Arroz insisted that 90 per cent of Mozambican Medical Association members were on strike. (Nampa-AFP, The Namibian)

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