The general assembly of the Egyptian doctors' syndicate announced on Friday a call for a partial strike beginning in January 2014 to protest the government's delay in increasing doctors' minimum wages.
The general assembly agreed that the newly elected assembly to be voted in on Friday at the semi-annual elections will determine the details and duration of the partial strike.
The syndicate's assembly meeting also witnessed tense arguments between Muslim Brotherhood doctors and independent doctors. The scuffles erupted when Brotherhood attendees insisted the elections be postponed until detained members are released.
180 doctors from the Brotherhood, including the syndicate's former general secretary Dr. Gamal Abdel Salam, have been detained since July 2013. Security cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood since the dispersal of two Cairo sit-ins on 14 August demanding the reinstatement of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Thousands of Brotherhood members were arrested.
The assembly agreed to address the prosecutor general to arrange the detained doctors' release, but refused to postpone the elections, which will take place next Friday as scheduled.
Since 2011 the doctors' syndicate has consistently demanded an increase in doctors' minimum wages at a national level.
The first nationwide doctors strike was in May 2011, covering most public hospitals and several university hospitals. The strikers demands included increasing doctors' minimum wages and raising the national health budget from 3.5% to 15%.
The syndicate also initiated a partial strike from October 2012 to March 2013 to put pressure on the government to meet their demands for increased wages and improved working conditions, particularly for doctors working in the public sector.
In October, the Egyptian government announced that LE 1,800 would be the minimum starting salary for doctors beginning in January 2014, but the doctors' syndicate maintained that this was not an adequate minimum wage for medical professionals.