23 January 2017

Kenya: Doctors' Strike Talks to Resume As Arrest Deadline Looms

Photo: Dennis Onsongo/Daily Nation
Doctors in Nairobi County protesting (file photo)

Nairobi — Talks to end the doctors' strike are due to resume Monday even as Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists (KMPDU) Union officials risk going to jail should negotiations hit a deadlock by Thursday.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu told Capital FM News that he had called the doctors in for talks on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

"If we analyse the situation, the best we can do is to negotiate with the doctors despite their stance though they should respect the court's decision to call off the strike," he said.

The Health CS however insisted that the government cannot pay the high salaries they are demanding hence the need to re-negotiate the CBA.

"What they are asking for is beyond our reach. They should tone down on their demands so that we can move forward. Kenyans are suffering because of this strike," he stated.

But KMPDU Chairman Samuel Oroko stated that the seven officials are ready to be jailed over the CBA which they insist must be implemented.

"We are ready to go to jail if that means fighting for the rights of doctors. The government seems not to be serious in the engagements and we will not relent until the CBA is signed," he said.

On Sunday, the government stated that it has redoubled efforts to ensure access to health services by members of the public as the industrial action by doctors continues.

Among the measures put in place according to the Ministry of Health include engaging over 2000 faith based facilities to provide delivery and emergency services, as well as monitoring of the over 6,000 public dispensaries, health centres and outpatient departments in public hospitals.

In a statement, the ministry however insists that the contentious 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement is not registered in court and as a result cannot be implemented.

The government has since offered a 40 percent increment of doctors' current remuneration but they remain adamant saying the CBA must be honoured, which will see their salary increased by 300 percent.

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