Kenya: Strike Will Go On Untill Our Demands Are Met, Say Doctors

Doctors on strike have accused the Ministry of Health of arm-twisting health workers to return to work, yet their concerns — including promotions, better remuneration and review of job groups — have not been resolved.

Through the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPPDU), they said the ministry had stalled implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement and instead “calling them for meetings at the last minute”.

KMPPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga was referring to a meeting called by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu on Sunday evening.

He said: “They were calling us for a meeting at 5.30pm despite having given them over three years to sort out our issues.

“Nothing is going to come in our way; we will (be on) strike until our issues are solved. We will not stop until doctors are accorded the dignity they deserve.”

Dr Oluga was addressing his peers — nearly 300 doctors — who walked and chanted from the Public Service Club to Afya House and finally at the National Treasury.

The medics, who donned white lab coats, theatre scrubs, masks and stethoscopes, carried white sacks — which they said were for carrying the money they were demanding from the government, as National Youth Service scam suspect Josephine Kabura said she did.

The nearly four-hour procession was temporarily interrupted at Afya House when police officers hurled three teargas canisters at the health workers.

The strike is a result of the ministry’s failure to implement a 27-page CBA it signed with the union on June 28, 2013, which came into effect on July 1, 2013.

Burning issues in CBA

1. Job groups: The union wanted intern doctors’ entry point raised to Job Group ‘M’ from ‘L’ and progress to ‘N’ as medical officers upon completion of internship. MoH said they should wait for an evaluation by the Ministry of Devolution and Planning and the Public Service Commission by January 2014.

2. Promotions: Based on merit and apply if a doctor serves in the same job group for three years in the same establishment. A doctor requiring additional training — save for masters programmes — prior to promotion would be facilitated and sponsored. MoH was to increase job groups to accommodate promotions.

3. Transfers: A doctor shall not be transferred by the ministry more than once in two years unless in exceptional circumstances, such as a promotion or request, and be paid an allowance.

4. Training, development, and research: Union called for continuous professional development aligned to Vision 2030, locally and internationally, at one per cent of MoH recurrent budget.

Doctors employed by the government be eligible for bonded full sponsorship to post-graduate training after two years of service after internship. To continue earning monthly salary and allowances.

All doctors facilitated for at least one short course on life supported courses per year for a maximum of five days.

5. Research Fund: Non-remunerative Medical Research Fund to carry out medical research.

6. Medical internship: Interns posted to respective stations within 90 days after completion of studies with full salary. Develop internship policy.

7. Remuneration: Basic salary to include allowances. Working hours to be 40 hours a week.

©Alleastafrica and Daily Nation

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