1 February 2017

Kenya: Doctors' CBA Illegal, Senate Team Says

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

Senate Health Committee has said a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that doctors want implemented is illegal.

The Committee chairman Dr Wilfred Machage on Wednesday said the CBA has been overtaken by events.

He said Parliament should intervene to resolve the stalemate.

He said both national and county governments should stop threatening to sack the doctors, who have been on strike for almost two months.

The Senate Health Committee met senior officials from the Ministry of Health Wednesday over the ongoing doctors strike.

The committee had expressed concern over failure by the government to strike a compromise with the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) almost two months since the strike started.

The strike has affected service delivery in public health facilities countrywide.

The meeting comes even as a group of senators blamed the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) for spate of strikes in the country.

Led by Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow, the lawmakers said it has been difficult to negotiate whenever there is a strike, because of a hard stance taken by the SRC.

"Ministries faced with strikes over salaries have a limited role when negotiating the CBAs because the SRC has set the salaries and are not ready to review them," Mr Kerrow said.

The SRC, he said, should not just dismiss agreements entered into long before the commission was formed as such a move would frustrate efforts to find a lasting solution to the crisis.

"There are serious questions about the pro-activeness of SRC on these issues. Being an independent constitutional commission, they need to take a keen interest to ensure all Kenyans access quality medication," he said.

The commission has also been accused of not being impartial in their work as they have allowed politicians to enjoy hefty packages after they successfully managed to compromise the commission to drop its initial ceilings.

Doctors have argued that it is unfair to pay politicians particularly Members of County Assemblies more than what they earn yet they go through many years of study before eventually being employed.

Nurses, who agreed to call off their strike, are not qualified to handle all the medical cases that end up in hospitals as in most cases, they work alongside the doctors.

The doctors have maintained that the government must stop using the courts and sacking threats to intimidate them into submission but honour the CBA.

Dr Machage said the country, which already has a shortage of doctors, risks losing out more if the government continues to take the profession for granted.

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