Medics with­draw from di­a­logue as state be­gins talks with nurses

Doc­tors, den­tists and phar­ma­cists’ union says they will no longer ne­go­ti­ate with govern­ment af­ter of­fi­cials were threat­ened with ar­rest. Nurses wel­comed bar­gain­ing

The Star (Kenya) - - Front Page - RHODA ODHIAMBO AND JOHN MUCHANGI @TheS­tarKenya

Doc­tors yes­ter­day walked out of their ne­go­ti­a­tions with the govern­ment af­ter a court or­der was is­sued to ar­rest any of­fi­cials from the union par­tic­i­pat­ing in the strike.

Judge He­len Wasilwa also or­dered the of­fi­cials of the Kenya Med­i­cal Prac­ti­tion­ers, Phar­ma­cists and Den­tists’ Union to ap­pear in court next Tues­day to show cause why they should not be com­mit­ted to civil jail for dis­obey­ing a court or­der not to skip work.

“I will not fail to is­sue war­rants of ar­rest if they fail to ap­pear in court,” she said.

Doc­tors, den­tists, phar­ma­cists and nurses have skipped work since Mon­day fol­low­ing the lapse of a 21-day no- tice. But nurses in some coun­ties are work­ing.

They are de­mand­ing that the govern­ment im­ple­ment the June 2013 col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment for pro­mo­tions, bet­ter pay, hir­ing of more medics and bet­ter work en­vi­ron­ment.

Union sec­re­tary gen­eral Ouma Oluga told the Star on the phone that they are not go­ing to ne­go­ti­ate with the govern­ment be­cause it seems they do not want to ad­dress their de­mands.

“Af­ter that court or­der, we do not care any­more. We are not go­ing to ne­go­ti­ate any­more. They should know that we are not go­ing back to work. The col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment must be im­ple­mented first,” he said.

Oluga warned that the health sec­tor will suf­fer more next week.

“Next week, doc­tors work­ing in pri­vate hos­pi­tals will be join­ing us in sol­i­dar­ity. If the govern­ment is se­ri­ous about health­care, then it should im­ple­ment the col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing agree­ment signed three years ago,” he said.

Clin­i­cal of­fi­cers also said they will skip work from to­day. How­ever, there was hope that the nurses’ strike would be re­solved af­ter Kenya Na­tional Union of Nurses’ of­fi­cials agreed to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“The min­istry has shown se­ri­ous­ness to ne­go­ti­ate with us and we are ready to talk,” KNUN sec­re­tary gen­eral Seth Panyako told the Star.

Panyako and KNUN chair­man John Bii held talks in Nairobi from mid­day yes­ter­day with of­fi­cials from the Min­istry of Health, Coun­cil of Gov­er­nors, Keny­atta Na­tional Hospi­tal, Moi Teach­ing and Re­fer­ral Hospi­tal and the Salaries and Re­mu­ner­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

The nurses are ask­ing for a 25 to 40 per cent salary hike, pro­mo­tions, new al­lowances and har­mon­i­sa­tion of their grad­ing scales.

Bii said gov­er­nors had re­fused to ne­go­ti­ate with them, forc­ing the union to write its own CBA. They now want the coun­cil to sign the uni­lat­eral CBA.

“They did not want to ne­go­ti­ate with us and we felt the strike was the best way to force them to the ta­ble,” he said.

At least 19 pa­tients have died na­tion­wide since the strike be­gan on Mon­day.

Kenyans have taken to Twit­ter us­ing the hash­tags #BlameItOnThePres­i­dent and #Uhu­ruPayDoc­tors, ask­ing the Pres­i­dent to in­ter­vene. Uhuru has pleaded with medics to re­turn to work.

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