Fed up with working conditions, medical practitioners in the public health sector have voted to strike in October, following an exceptional general assembly of the doctors’ syndicate on Friday.
“We will have an open ended partial strike staring October,” said Ahmed Hussien, a member of the board of the doctor’s syndicate. “It will not include emergency rooms, kidney dialysis, intensive care units, and incubators… The strike will include all days of the week except for Thursday.”
Doctors are demanding a minimum wage of EGP 3,000 a month, an increase in the government’s share of the budget allocated to healthcare and better security for hospitals which have come under violent attacks across the country in recent months.
The formation of a committee to govern negotiations and the administration of the strike caused a division in the syndicate. The chairman of the syndicate, Abdel-Dayem and members of the board left the general assembly after doctors voted for them not to be included in the committee. “They wanted the committee to include them,” Hussein said.
“They are college professors, they are not party to the problem and do not have an interest in it.” Hussein said the committee had to be made up of medical practitioners working in the Ministry of Health.
After the top syndicate officials left the general assembly continued, headed by the eldest member of the general assembly. “It was continued by the eldest member, Dr Mohamed Rafik, who by coincidence turned out to be the Head of the Doctors’ Syndicate in Alexandria,” Hussein said. Rafik headed the assembly alongside Ahmed Hussein, Mona Mina, Emteyaz Hassona and Islam Abu Zeid; all four are board members in the syndicate.
However, Abdel-Dayem said the decisions made after he left were not valid and he refused to recognise them. He claimed he did not withdraw but ended the session. A statement released by a syndicate said that the session ended at 4:30 and did not include the decisions made after the chairman left.
Hussein said the general assembly decided that doctors who declined to strike could face disciplinary action by the syndicate. “Anyone who refuses to strike will be referred to investigations to determine the punishment that they will have to face,” he said.
“According to the rules, anyone who violates a decision by the general assembly can face punishment ranging from getting a warning to being disbarred from the syndicate.” Hussein said that over 1,150 members showed up in the general assembly.
According to a statement released by the syndicate on Saturday, President Mohamed Morsy met with representatives from medical unions where he said that the pay raise will be approved in the next fiscal year which will start next July. It added that Morsy decided that EGP 700 million will be given to doctors.
However, one doctor, Mostafa Al-Beheriy said, this “money is not extra; these are bonuses that should have been paid before.”