Striking doctors have ruled out further talks with government officials, dashing hopes for a quick solution to the industrial dispute that enters its 15th day today.
Union officials said they will not attend meetings or accept any offers until the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) signed with the government three years ago is fully implemented.
“We shall continue being on strike until that day the doctors CBA of 2013 shall be implemented. If that takes 10 years, so be it,” said Dr Ouma Oluga, secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU).
Doctors downed their tools on December 5, citing failure to implement the agreement that promises a 300 per cent pay rise. They also cited low staffing and poor equipment as grounds for their crippling strike.
Over 20 patients have so far died due to lack of services in public hospitals since the strike commenced.
Nurses and clinical officers who were also on strike have since reported back to work after reaching an agreement with the government last week.
Doctors have, however, remained adamant that their strike will go on even after the Employment and Labour Court judge Hellen Wasilwa issued an order terming the strike illegal.
Yesterday, Dr Oluga said doctors were fighting for a more efficient healthcare system “and not just the increment in salaries as the government portrays”.
“We are on a journey to make the healthcare system more efficient through improved service delivery, which are addressed in the CBA. Indeed that is what the CBA is all about,” said Dr Oluga.
Justice Wasilwa said that the KMPDU officials, who have been sued by governors over the ongoing doctors’ strike, will know their fate after her ruling.
The judge said that she would decide whether to order police to arrest the union officials, following a lawsuit by the Council of Governors that wants top KMPDU chiefs jailed for allegedly breaching court orders stopping the workers’ boycott.