Doctors have hardened their stance in the ongoing standoff with the government, saying they’re ready to go to jail rather than call off the strike.
The doctors Monday issued a statement demanding the registration and implementation of the June 2013 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which is at the centre of the impasse.
The medical workers who have been on strike since December 5, 2016 also threatened to withdraw services from private hospitals should their Union leaders be jailed as per court orders.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary-general, Ouma Oluga said the new resolutions were passed on Monday after a meeting with union members at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
“The only solution to this is for the CBA to be registered to have the doctors’ strike come to an end,” said Dr Oluga.
“The strike will continue should the union leaders be jailed as there will be no negotiations that can take place.”
The doctors have remained defiant over giving in to the government offer of a 40 per cent salary increment offer, saying that salaries are the least of their demands as outlined in the CBA.
The 40 per cent pay rise offer, which President Uhuru Kenyatta made to the doctors when he met their representatives at State House Mombasa early January, would see the least-paid doctor take home Sh196,989 monthly up from the current Sh140,244.
The pay increase includes allowances due to the doctors in various job groups.
Doctors, however, want the government to meet their needs, including annual training of specialist doctors, research funding and internship programmes, besides a 300 per cent salary increase.
If the June 2013 CBA is implemented, the lowest paid doctor would earn at least Sh300,000 monthly.
Dr Oluga said that the medics were not desperate and “would continue fighting for future generations and those working hard in school to earn better pay and working conditions.”
This comes as the country continues to grapple with a chronic shortage of doctors and specialists as brain drain lingers, piling pressure on the health sector.
The doctor-patient ratio in Kenya currently stands at 17 doctors for every 100,000 people, below the World Health Organisation recommendation of 100 doctors for every 100,000 people.
If the CBA is implemented the country will have an 1,200 additional specialist doctors employed annually.
Over 300 consultant doctors from KNH and the University of Nairobi medical schools have already withdrawn services from both clinical and non-clinical areas, further crippling the already sick public health sector.