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Doctors protest 'paltry' salaries.

CAIRO: Doctors protested on the steps of their Doctors' Syndicate Tuesday against a government pay scheme introduced last year.

Wearing white coats and holding up placards with slogans reading "a doctor's wage is equal to a three-day month," doctors chanted against the government's policy towards their wages.

"We are holding this protest for two reasons," said Mohamed Rakha, a doctor at the Abbasseya Psychiatric Hospital in Cairo, "Firstly, we started receiving the doctors' incentive payment the government gave us instead of the minimum wage we have constantly demanded last year. That there would be delays in the payment of these incentives soon became clear," Rakha said.

"There have also been many other problems in their payment in various areas -- some doctors have not received them. In addition, ministers have made several promises about other allowance payments which haven't seen the light of day."

In 2008, Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif announced that Ministry of Health doctors would receive pay rises in the form of a doctors' incentive payment, 30 percent of which would be performance-related. Ministerial decree 318 also stated that payment of the incentive would be subject "to the availability of finances."

The scheme was roundly rejected by doctors from the Doctors Without Rights (DWR) who have long called for a LE 1,000 minimum wage.

Protesting doctor Khaled Abdel Rahman explained that pay raises in the form of conditional monthly incentive payments are unreliable because their payment is subject to the whims of hospital management.

"Incentive payments are subject to monthly assessments and the conditions surrounding their payment are unclear. If any problems happen at work you can lose 50 percent or even 100 percent of incentive payments," Abdel Rahman told Daily News Egypt.

In a statement handed out at the protest, DWR say that doctors based in some hospitals have not received the incentive payment at all while others, such as those based in teaching hospitals, have only received payments for the month of January -- after six months of complaints and petitions.

The statement says that hospitals justify the "irregular payment of the incentive with the excuse of 'lack of finances,'" while some hospitals in Beheira and Damietta have started deducting from doctors' salaries incentive payments made previously.

Last week Prime Minister Nazif announced that incentive payments due to be received by specialists and consultants in June will not be paid because of insufficient funds as a result of the global economic crisis.

DWR are critical of the decision to honor Nazif and Health Minister Hatem El-Gabaly on the occasion of Doctors' Day in a ceremony scheduled to be held at the Doctors' Syndicate today.

"On the occasion of all this dashing of doctors' hopes and their legitimate demands, the syndicate decides to host Nazif and El-Gabaly and honor them on Doctors' Day in the home of doctors," the statement reads.

Rakha is skeptical of the government's claims that sufficient funds do not exist to grant the incentive payments.

"It's a paltry sum. If there was real concern about doctors the government would find the money for these payments."

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Mar 17, 2009
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