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
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.