MAM postpones industrial action for four weeks - 17/10/2009

link to Times online;

Doctors step back from planned action
Consultants angry that clinical training is unpaid
Matthew Xuereb

Doctors have postponed planned industrial action by four weeks to give the authorities enough "breathing space" to address pending issues, Medical Association of Malta president Martin Balzan said yesterday.

Dr Balzan said the decision was taken during a meeting for doctors: "Given the goodwill we have seen, especially through the intervention of Health Parliamentary Secretary Joe Cassar, we have decided to give the authorities time to work on the pending issues. We have been promised they will use this time to act on them."

The doctors are in dispute with the University and the Health Division over a number of issues.

The association registered the dispute with the division for not honouring part of the November 2007 collective agreement which promised promotions for designate consultants.

In the dispute with the University, the MAM was angered that the former had started considering doctors who lectured on a part-time basis as visiting lecturers, stripping them of a vote for the University Council and the Senate and not allowing them to vote for the head of their own department.

Consultants were also incensed that the clinical training they gave to medical students, who followed the treatment of patients, was unpaid. Although they lectured for an hour, they had students attached for 10 to 15 hours.

In an e-mail circulated to doctors by the MAM prior to yesterday's meeting, the MAM said it was gearing up for hard action unless the dispute was resolved.

Dr Balzan said the association "had everything in place to issue hard-hitting directives" but these were being postponed in view of the good will shown.

Replying to questions sent by this newspaper, the Social Policy Ministry said: "Since there are contacts between the government and MAM on the pending

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