, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 7 – The government will have to go back to the drawing board after the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union on Wednesday evening rejected a new pay offer presented to them.
The union was engaged with government on the third day of the strike in yet another round of negotiations that bore no fruit.
The government had made a new proposal to allocate Sh7.1billion for extraneous allowance to all health workers in two quarters as opposed to the three annual phases it had proposed earlier.
This would have seen Sh1.9billion paid out in phase one beginning this month while Sh5.2billion was to be released in July next year.
This meant that the doctors would receive extraneous allowances ranging from Sh30,000-Sh40,000 per month to be implemented over the next seven months.
“Today, what you have given… we don’t have a breakdown and we would rather you give us one so that we can see how much has been offered to the doctors rather than mention huge figures that could add up to nothing,” the union’s chairman Victor Ng’ani told the team of government officials during the negotiations which were opened up to the media.
Medical Services Assistant Minister Kambi Kazungu had further indicated to the doctors that the government was willing to give Sh200million for training of health workers and another Sh113million for delayed promotion agreed upon two years ago.
However, the union’s chairman expressed concerns that despite issuing a 13 point memorandum to the government, it seemed to only address two issues.
Other government proposals were to set aside Sh80billion for infrastructure development over a period of 10 years.
Salaries for 95 doctors which had been stopped due to lack of documentation had also been released and the doctors given two months to submit required documents.
The government had also approved recruitment of an additional 607middle level health workers, and employment of 200 medical officers immediately.
“We wish to inform the public that the government’s priority in this situation is to protect life by ensuring that adequate measures are put in place to address emergencies and all other service for patients,” the assistant minister said.
Earlier on, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o had maintained that the yet to be formed Salaries and Remuneration Commission was the only one that could address the issue of doctors salaries.
Nyong’o told the striking doctors that due process had to be followed and so a strike would not solve anything.
Responding to questions on his Twitter account, the minister who is in the United States accused the doctors’ union of failing to reason by pushing ahead with the strike which entered its third day on Wednesday.
“Stop shadow boxing and let the government deal with allowances while the salary commission deals with remuneration,” he said in one of his Tweets.
The minister also defended himself against accusations that he had been silent on the matter and said he had on two occasions negotiated with the union without success.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s Health Committee has called on the government to stop being ‘casual’ and address the demands of the striking doctors.
Chairman Robert Monda told journalists at Parliament buildings that the government was well aware of the issues affecting doctor’s way before the strike started.
“The issues being raised by doctors are genuine and real, it must be clear to the government that unless it moves with speed to end the strike then we will lose more people in hospitals than we would if the doctors were working,” he said.
The MPs particularly took issue with the Ministry for Medical Services for failing to respond to a petition from the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, presented to Parliament before the strike, by the Health Committee.
“The President and the Prime Minister have responded well when we have tragedies. Is the government aware that we could lose more people than we lost in the Sinai fire tragedy?” posed Monda.