1 February 2017

Kenya: Senate Committee to Meet Health Officials Over Doctors Strike

Photo: Jeff Angote/Daily Nation
Senate Health Committee, led by chairman Wilfred Machage (centre), in session (file photo)

Nairobi — The Senate Health Committee is Wednesday morning expected to meet with senior officials from the Ministry of Health with respect to the ongoing strike.

The officials are expected to outline to the committee measures taken to bring an end to the two month industrial action, which has paralysed operations in public hospitals countrywide.

Doctors have already presented a petition to Parliament to intervene and help them secure a 300 percent salary increment in the contentious 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

"The petitioners are therefore praying that the National Assembly commences the necessary legislative process towards releasing emoluments under the doctors' collective bargaining agreement of 2013 as conditional grants from the National government to the Counties specifically targeted to doctors," Deputy Speaker Joyce Laboso stated during the presentation in the National Assembly.

Laboso who presided over the sitting directed the joint House Health Committee and that of Labour and Social Affairs to expedite their deliberations on the matter and submit their recommendations back to the House for adoption.

"That the National Assembly commences the legislative process towards the creation of a Health Service Authority to address and standardize the human resource aspect," she said.

In the petition signed by the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Ouma Oluga, doctors want Parliament to add its voice in calling on the Government to "negotiate with utmost good faith with the aim of ending the current stalemate so as to alleviate the suffering being visited upon the citizens."

They are also seeking the commencement of the legislative process towards enacting laws to create a special grading structure for doctors considering the specialised function they offer.

"Our petition recognizes your unique position in our society as the legislative arm of Government and acknowledges that your input will go a long way towards helping in the resolution of the matter. Find attached the various documents for your perusal," Oluga stated.

He indicated that the necessary legislative process towards releasing emoluments under the Doctors' Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2013 as conditional grants from the National Government to the Counties specifically targeting doctors should begin.

"You commence the legislative process towards to enacting laws mandating 4 year reviews of health facility staffing, work conditions and doctors salaries with a view of increasing pay by not less than 70 per cent every year to achieve global benchmark rates," he said.

"As a matter of public interest, doctors of the Republic of Kenya represented by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union do undertake to petition you as representatives of the people of Kenya and as the legislature on the above subject matter."

In the petition, Oluga stated that doctors have been willing and available for negotiations to end the stalemate and halt the suffering of Kenyans.

"We also realise that a quick-fix mentality will perpetuate status quo whereby doctors in their various counties result to industrial action to address the issues being raised as often as has been witnessed in the preceding years following devolution," he said.

He clarified that they have attended all negotiation meetings called by the various stakeholders to end the mass action.

"In view of the negotiations, we wish to further clarify that we have attended ALL negotiations called for including those called after the Employment and Labour Relations Court sentenced Union Officials to a One month's suspended sentence whereby the Union's officials have faced intimidation, threats and coercion."

On Tuesday, the Employment and Labour Relations Court said it will on Friday rule on a petition by doctors' union officials, seeking a review of the one month jail term sentences they were handed.

Through its Lawyer Edgar Washika, the Union contended that the sentence which was to be carried out should negotiations fail, was unfair to them since the cooperation of other parties was needed.

Senator Mutula Kilonzo Junior who was also appearing for the union stated, the need for an all-inclusive process and indicated that should the officials be jailed, it would disrupt the negotiations.

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