What Uhuru Kenyatta's "aah kwani hii watu wanaona sisi ni wajinga namna gani" sentiments mean to doctors' 94-day-long strike

Uhuru accused the striking doctors of blackmail saying that they are paid highly compared to other practitioners in public hospitals.

 

Accompanied by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Health CS Dr Cleopa Mailu and 47 governors, the Council of Governors chairman and Meru governor Peter Munya drew the line in the sand on Tuesday evening at the 4th Annual Devolution Conference being held in Naivasha, giving the worst jab to doctors, the least they expected after their dragging 94-day-long strike.

In a joint statement read by Munya which shouted ‘we shall no longer be pushed around’, the national and county governments were in agreement on this one issue: the time for cajoling was over.

“The national and county governments and all other employers in the public health sector to continue and conclude disciplinary processes being undertaken as against absconding staff in order to facilitate filling of vacancies that may be left out as a result of the disciplinary action,” Munya read the joint statement in Naivasha.

Equally, the two governments withdrew, in a hardliner spirit, doctors offer to backdate Sh10, 000 in a proffered risk allowance from July 2016 and which would add Sh600 million to the government’s budget.

Solemn oath

“Every doctor swears a solemn oath that they shall do no harm. Continuing with this illegal strike in the face of enhanced government offer which is at the very edge of affordability and sustainability is to betray that solemn oath,” Munya said, adding that the improved allowance would maybe take shape in January as opposed to an earlier July proposal.

As a mitigation measure for a shaped future, Munya said that the government would be taking steps to cut the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to a reasonable size.

“Subject to the existing law, the government shall immediately review the registration and certification procedures for medical practitioners and the role of KMPDU in that process with the view of reverting that function back to the Ministry of Health,” reads part of the joint statement.

It adds: “Various players have been involved in the mediation process, including the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, COTU (Central Organisation of Trade Unions), the Law Society of Kenya and religious leaders.”

“However, due to the hardline position of the union, which position has not moved an iota since last year, all these efforts have failed.”

Hardliner doctors

Munya accused the KMPDU officials of maintaining a hard stance, dragging the talks to try to resolve the impasse. The contested Collective Bargaining Agreement, illegally signed in 2013, was amended by the very doctors, and was awaiting recognition in a court of law. The government later withdrew their offer, blaming it on the doctors’ earlier stance.

The Labour Relations Court in January ruled that the doctors strike, which is now in its 94th day, was illegal, a contestation that saw the jailing of KMPDU officials. The medics’ representatives were detained for contempt of an earlier court order to suspend the strike as the talks took way.

Among the doctors' union's demands are a 300 per cent increase in their salaries and better working conditions at Kenya's public hospitals.

Government’s stand so far

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