CAIRO: Lobby group Doctors Without Rights (DWR) have reiterated their demand for a basic minimum wage, calling salary changes introduced last year “a fictitious diversion .
The DWR statement titled “For the 1000th time: doctor’s allowance isn’t paid out , which was issued last week, details the experiences of doctors at Damietta Heart and Digestive System Institute who have sent a complaint to the Health Minister concerning non-payment of the doctor’s allowance.
“We have not been paid the doctor’s allowance we were supposed to receive in January 2009. This is a clear violation of ministerial decree 318 issued in 2008 which provides for payment of the allowance to all doctors working in ministry of health establishments, the statement reads.
The doctors were informed that ministerial decree 318 does not apply to specialized medical centers and that the salaries of doctors working in these facilities are governed by the financial policies of each medical center.
The statement suggests that this position contradicts a letter from the health ministry’s Central Administration for Medical Treatment which stated that the allowance will be paid to all Ministry of Health doctors appointed to teaching hospitals, health insurance establishments and treatment centers.
According to the statement, doctors at Ahmed Maher Teaching Hospital, who had the same problem as the Damietta doctors, were paid the doctor’s allowance after appealing to the minister of health.
DWR were highly critical of decree 318, introduced last year by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, saying that it was an unsatisfactory response to the group’s long-term campaign for a basic minimum wage of LE 1,000.
The decree’s provision that “the payment of these incentive payments is linked to the availability of finances came under particular criticism by the group who warned that this connection makes payment of the increase “extremely uncertain .
Furthermore, DWR say that because the doctor’s allowance is an incentive payment, offering it is discretionary, meaning that doctors cannot rely on it.
Since its introduction last year, both DWR and the Doctor’s Syndicate have organized demonstrations against problems in the payment of the allowance, although unlike DWR, the Syndicate does not reject wage increases in the form of an incentive payment rather than a fixed basic minimum wage.
Hamdy El-Sayyed, head of the Doctors Syndicate told Daily News Egypt that there have been problems with the payment of the allowance to some doctors, but that the Syndicate is continuing its negotiations with the government.
“A number of doctors were not paid the allowance during the first stage, and there are others who are the subject of an order for payment which hasn’t yet been implemented. Groups of doctors in health insurance and various medical treatment institutes are scheduled to receive payments, El-Sayyed said.
“We are still in negotiations with the government, and always say that if doctors have a complaint they should come to the Syndicate first.
DWR, however, insist that salary problems will only be solved through increases paid in the form of a monthly basic minimum wage.
“It has become clear that the doctor’s allowance is a fictitious diversion. We will not gain any genuine and solid benefit from it except if we gather forces to demand that it is turned into a fixed payment, paid to all doctors at the beginning of every month and not subject to evaluation or existence of funds . -Additional reporting by Raghda El-Halawany