Kenya: Fresh Bid to End Doctors’ Strike Collapses

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Afresh attempt to end an 11-day strike by doctors has come to naught after union officials were “chased out” of a meeting called by Labour Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General Ouma Oluga said the Thursday meeting was casually announced through a phone call by a ministry official on Wednesday night.

“There was no invitation letter or email and no agenda,” he said.

He said the meeting, scheduled to start at 10am, was delayed, and when Ms Kandie arrived, she demanded to speak to only five union officials.

Dr Oluga said when the union officials selected five people from the 12 that had turned up, the CS inexplicably told them to leave, saying they had not done as they were told.

Nation was not able to get a comment from the Health or Labour ministries before going to print.

The fresh stalemate comes a day after Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu pleaded with the doctors to “cushion their demands with a little resilience and be humble enough to come back to the negotiating table”.

Dr Mailu made the appeal on Wednesday as he signed an agreement with nurses to resume work.

The CS initiated talks with the doctors on December 4, a day before the strike.

But the deadlock has remained, with each side accusing the other of acting in bad faith.

NOT RIGHT

The doctors maintain they have been “ridiculed, belittled and disrespected by the government” but the Health ministry claims the medical personnel are unwilling to negotiate.

Meanwhile, governors have accused the doctors of playing politics.

Council of Governors Health Committee Chairman Jack Ranguma said Thursday the doctors “had entrenched interests and an inability to open up”.

Mr Ranguma said while their demands were genuine, the pay increase claimed was in dispute.

The governor said the collective bargaining agreement between the doctors and the national government in 2013 had grey areas, including disagreements on pay rise figures.

“The doctors signed an agreement that was erroneous because it suspended the most important section for them — the negotiated 300 per cent pay rise,” he said.

The lowest paid doctor earns Sh130,000 in basic salary and allowances. The union wants this raised to Sh350,000.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Nation

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