CAIRO: Doctors protested pay conditions outside the ministry of finance Tuesday, amidst clear divisions between the Doctors Syndicate, which organized the protest, and rights group Doctors Without Rights (DWR).
Some 40 doctors took part in the protest, holding up signs reading “the ministry of finance gives with its right hand and takes with its left and, “what happened to [prime minister] Nazif s promises about improvements in pay?
“[The Syndicate and DWR] differ on a fundamental point: do we demand only the basic minimum wage and keep on calling for it even if the government doesn t award it to us, or do we work on gradual improvement? Doctors Syndicate secretary-general Essam El-Eriany told Daily News Egypt.
“Through gradual improvement we will eventually be able to add pay improvements given to us to the [existing] basic wage, and will end up with a salary with is equivalent to the basic minimum wage DWR are calling for, El-Erian continued.
A Syndicate statement handed out during the protest called on finance minister Youssef Botros Ghali to implement the pay pledges made as part of the prime ministerial decree 318 that introduced pay rises in the form of a doctors’ incentive payment.
While the first stage of this pay scheme was received by some doctors, Nazif last month announced that as a result of the global economic crisis, there are “insufficient funds to implement the second stage of the pay scheme.
DWR meanwhile have long called for a fixed, basic minimum wage whose payment is not subject to the whims of hospital management, as is the case with incentive payments and allowances, DWR says.
El-Erian pointed to the problems in payment of the basic minimum wage in other sectors.
“Judges complain of two things; financial independence, and the fact that the minimum wage they receive is not enough. There is a new minimum wage for school teachers whose implementation has been extremely difficult – there are protests every day as a result. It s the same problem everywhere. What counts now is the money going into doctors pockets today, and the pension they will receive in the future, El-Erian explained.
DWR meanwhile were critical of the decision to protest outside the ministry of finance, saying in a statement that their participation was “symbolic .
“The doctors’ allowance was issued without ensuring that sufficient funds exist to finance it – stripping it of all meaning, and making clear that its real objective was to deceive doctors, DWR says in a statement.
“By protesting outside the ministry of finance we are sending the message that we don t understand that we are being deliberately deceived … and that we believe the minister of health s claims that his decisions are genuine and only stalled by the minister of finance .