Doctors’ union holds closed-door meeting with the President

Doctors’ union officials on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Mombasa to deliberate on bringing the month-long health workers’ strike to an end.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary-general Ouma Oluga had earlier said the union was willing to negotiate with the government.

The meeting, which started at 10 a.m, was aimed at finding a lasting solution to the doctors’ strike, which has led to loss of many lives in the over 2,700 government hospitals.

“They are meeting in State House, Mombasa, (and) phones are restricted to avoid mischievous recordings,” said a union official.

The outcome of the meeting was yet to be known by the time of going to press.

Over 100 doctors from six counties in the coastal region met at Mbaraki Sports Club in Mombasa over the weekend and urged Mr Kenyatta to initiate dialogue with them to end the stalemate.

The doctors demanded that the government meet their demands including annual training of specialist doctors, research funding and internship programmes, besides a 300 per cent salary increase.

KMPDU member Allan Makokha said union members want a signed collective bargaining agreement before they can resume duty. “We want a registered CBA and it should be implemented in phases.

The government should also come up with a real framework and be ready to honour it to avoid numerous doctors’ strikes,” said Dr Makokha.

Dr Oluga said that at the end of the day the government, and not doctors, is accountable to the suffering Kenyans.

“Government is pretending that they are not suffering… Kenyans are suffering and the government is accountable,” said Dr Oluga.

Some government officials have, however, maintained that the doctors’ strike is illegal, unreasonable and that the medics’ demands are based on “nothing else but greed”.

The Health ministry said in a statement that the CBA signed with KMPDU on March 22, 2013 and June 27, 2013 was subject to presentation to the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Treasury for concurrence and advice before the registration of the document in court for implementation.

The SRC advised that the CBA was unacceptable.

“KMPDU should engage with each county government with a view to having a recognition agreement signed and the CBA be fully aligned to the existing laws and regulations,” SRC recommended.

Forty five counties have since advertised hundreds of job vacancies.