Kenya: Taita Taveta Doctors Strike After Talks on Pay, Promotions Fail

Doctors in Taita Taveta have gone on strike as a series of talks with the county government have proven unsuccessful.

The Coast branch of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union issued a seven-day strike notice on May 8.

The county's union representative, Dr Roy Katisya, said the health department had refused to respond adequately to their grievances.

The talks collapsed as the union demanded speedy solutions while the county said time was needed to solve the doctors' problems.

EFFECTS

More than 40 doctors downed their tools at midnight and vowed to boycott work until their demands are met.

A check by the Nation found that the four main hospitals in Voi, Mwatate, Taveta and Wundanyi sub-counties had been affected.

At Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi, patients, especially those in clinics, remained stranded for lack of services.

But County Health Chief Officer Christine Mwakera said services were not interrupted as clinical officers were available.

"Almost everything is normal except where we have critical patients who need to be seen by a doctor," she said.

She said the negotiation team will on Thursday meet with the region's KMPDU secretary Dr Abi Mwachi to end the stalemate.

DEMANDS

The health workers want the county government to immediately convene meetings on implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Dr Katisya said their employer was not committed to the deal yet other counties had carried on with the process.

"The county government is not ready to give us a counter-offer that is practical and genuine," he said.

The doctors are also seeking a review of job groups, promotions, insurance cover and remuneration.

"Our salaries are always delayed. We demand that we get our pay on time," he said.

They further accused the county of playing politics with health matters.

PROMISES

On Wednesday, county Health executive Daniel Makoko sent a response letter to the union, pledging to address its concerns.

The letter seen by the Nation stated that the county had already started the process of promoting deserving doctors as per the scheme of service and government regulations.

It also said that Taita Taveta had streamlined remittance of the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and other statutory deductions for all county employees.

In addition, Mr Makoko said they were ready to convene the CBA meetings with the union.

But the union dismissed the letter, saying it did not specify timelines.

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