Senate Health Committee declares medics' CBA illegal, crushing their hopes in parliament to end impasse

The latest turn of events in the ongoing strike is likely to prompt the Labour Court to effect its one month term sentence to doctor's union officials.

 

The house committee chaired by Migori Senator Dr Wilfred Machage said the CBA had been overtaken by events, a contestation that is likely to see seven Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union (KMPDU) officials detained.

He has, however, called on the Parliament to intervene and resolve the doctors-government standoff running into its 59th day.

The committee met senior officials from the Ministry of Health on Wednesday over the ongoing doctors' strike.

Members of Parliament had earlier expressed concern over the government's failure to strike an agreement with the KMPDU officials, almost two months after the strike started.

The industrial action has for the last seven weeks paralysed specialized services in public health facilities countrywide.

SRC condemned

Earlier, a group of senators accused the Sarah Serem led Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for the cause of widespread industrial actions in the public sector. SRC recently concluded a nationwide review of terms of service for public servants, pasting an outrage from all sectors, worst hit being the doctors.

Speaking in the capital Nairobi, Mandera County Senator Billow Kerrow, told journalists that it has been difficult to negotiate whenever there is a strike, all attributed to the hard stance taken by the salaries review and regulator body, SRC.

“Ministries faced with strikes over salaries have a limited role when negotiating the CBAs because the SRC has set the salaries and are not ready to review them,” he said.

The commission has since maintained that doctors should bow to the governments’ offer of a 40 per cent salary increase offered early last month by President Uhuru Kenyatta and return to work as directed by the Labour Relations Court.

He has faulted the commission for being quick to dismiss the agreements, saying such a move would frustrate efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

Already the doctors have vowed not to return to work until the highly contested 2013 CBA is fully implemented, despite the court injunction to have them end their strike.

Arrest, sack threats

In the meantime, Council of Governors, a key party in the would-be negotiations has threatened to sack doctors who are on industrial action.

Currently, nurses, who agreed to call off their strike, are not qualified to handle all the medical cases that end up in hospitals as in most cases, they work alongside the doctors.

The doctors have maintained that the government must stop using the courts and sacking threats to intimidate them into submission, and called upon the ministry officials to honor the CBA.

This trashing of the CBA between the doctors and the government, a focal point of contestation, comes a day after the National Taxpayers Association released a report revealing saying that the health sector is poorly funded, allegations the ministry is yet to react to.

Late last year, the Ministry of Health was accused of fraudulently losing over Sh 5.3 billion in a corruption dragon the investigative detectives are still gathering data about.

In response, however, Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu, defended the ministry saying no cash had been lost adding that the leaked report of the loss of funds was an incomplete audit report.

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