THE three-day strike by contract doctors scheduled to start on Wednesday (April 5) might not take place after all. There are signs that government hospitals are functioning under normal circumstances.
I don’t think it is the intention of the contract doctors involved in the strike planned by Mogok Doktor Malaysia to cause major disruption to medical and health facilities in government hospitals.
As I have said before, the contract doctors merely want to highlight the long years of their neglect by the government.
The previous governments rode a roughshod over their requests. The contract doctors numbering in few thousands do not have permanency and neither do they have salary increases or paid allowances.
It is not the problem of today but the problem of many years whereby the plight of contract doctors was completely neglected.
But the minute the contract doctors became organised to demand the government to consider their requests, there is a hue and cry. It is as though the strikes by contract doctors are going to paralyse the entire health system of the country.
If I understand them correctly, there is no evil intention to immobilise the health system particularly the functioning of the government hospitals.
As doctors who have taken the solemn oath of loyalty to their profession and service to the public, there is no covert intervention to disrupt the medical services.
Of course, the trade union and industrial relations laws are not in the interest of the contract doctors.
Laws might exist but under extreme circumstances they cannot prevent the withdrawal of labour, the fundamental right of the contract doctors.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has come out to suggest the incorporation of 1,500 contract doctors in the permanent scheme.
But due to financial constraints, he said the government would consider the plight of the remaining contract doctors in due course. It is good that Anwar has a solution even if it is partial one.
At least something is being done to address their grievances. Anyway, a high-powered committee has been established to look into the grievances of the contract doctors.
The present unity government is much more honest than the past governments in addressing the plight of the contract doctors.
The anonymity of the organisation behind the strike cannot be used as reason to de-legitimise the sanctity of the demands of the contract doctors.
There are chances that the strike or work to rule might not take place because the government of the day has given some positive overtures in resolving the outstanding problems of contract doctors.
The real intention of calling for the strike is to highlight the long-neglected problems of contract workers, the status of their permanency.
Given the sincerity of the government, the strike might not take place. It is not that the contract doctors are uncaring human beings.
They are fully aware if they make mistake, public opinion might turn against them. They are doctors after all. – April 4, 2023
Main pic credit: The Star