KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — With just one day to go, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has thrown his support behind tomorrow’s planned protest by contract medical workers demanding employment security.
Khaled appealed for the authorities to allow the hartal or strike, but stressed that negotiations must be held immediately after to avert a staff shortage when the public healthcare system is already overwhelmed by the soaring number of daily Covid-19 cases.
The organisers behind the #hartaldoktorkontrak campaign estimated that as many as 5,000 contract doctors and medical workers could join the strike, a move that could paralyse an already strained healthcare system.
“I urge all sides to find the middle ground,” Khaled said in a statement today.
“It would be apt for the government to show deep empathy towards the demand by these young medical officers let the hartal take place tomorrow to respect their right to free expression but please return to the negotiating table immediately after,” the Umno leader added.
Dr Umar Barak, the campaign’s representative, said yesterday that contract doctors from major hospitals in the country will stage a walkout at 11am on July 26.
The planned strike will go on despite an appeal for them to call it off because members of the movement felt the government has not addressed the complaints and the call to ensure the future of some 23,000 contract doctors under the Ministry of Health.
Khaled said he saw demands for the government to address issues like salaries, employment security, allowances, specialist career opportunities and other employment benefits as “consistent and rational.”
But the former minister also urged the group not to dismiss the offer made by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin totally.
“At least give the offer space for consideration and discussion,” he said.
“If it’s not sufficient, then it should be the basis for more negotiations. For certainly not all demands can be met and not all offers should be rejected outright.”
The Cabinet issued a statement last Friday agreeing to appoint medical officers, dental officers and pharmacists but on a contract basis for the period of two years.
The offer will be given once they have completed their compulsory service to ensure continuity of service and preparation for pursuing specialist studies.
It also agreed to extend the contractual appointment to a maximum of four years for medical officers and dental officers who are pursuing specialisation studies during the contract period of the first two years.
The strike organisers have rejected the offer, calling it a “half-cooked solution,” and vowed to carry on with their hartal tomorrow as scheduled.