, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 10 – The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) on Monday accused the government of intimidating its members to discourage them from participating in a planned nationwide strike, scheduled for Thursday.
The Secretary General of KMPDU Onyino Were said the government had threatened to sack all doctors who down their tools following a strike notice that was issued two weeks ago, but maintained that they will not be cowed.
“Since we gave the government the notice, it has not responded to our plight and is instead threatening to sack our members and evict them from their houses,” he claimed.
“What we are saying is if you are not going to address these issues or meet the union before Thursday, then we are going to go ahead with our strike,” he vowed.
Were added that it was unlawful for the government to threaten the doctors yet the union had a court order clearing the strike.
“We have a court order stopping the government from intimidating union members and we have filed for contempt of court charges against the government which we will be serving to the concerned officers,” he said.
Were further pointed out that the government had not made any attempts to engage the union since the notice was issued.
He added that a meeting with the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) management on Monday morning did not yield any fruit.
“We had a meeting this morning which was mediated by the Kenya Medical Association (where) we laid down our engagement rules and they said that they will consult the ministries of health and get back to us,” he explained.
He accused the government of laxity in addressing the plight of civil servants noting that teachers and lecturers had also boycotted work.
In the meantime, registrar doctors attached to the KNH were still on strike on Monday, pressing their demand for Sh92,000 pay.
“The strike has affected services at KNH so they have been forced to close most of their outpatient clinics and are only offering emergency services,” claimed the union official.
The hospital however dismissed the claims saying healthcare provision had not been derailed.
The hospital also intends to employ 45 doctors so as to alleviate the effects of the striking doctors.
“KNH wanted to employ these doctors but we advised our members not to take up those jobs. So last week they did interviews and only got two doctors whose papers we are not sure about,” said Were.
The government had at the same time suspended all the registrars on strike but Were maintained that the Medical Services Ministry was overstepping its mandate.
“We were expecting the government to start the negotiations not intimidate members against the court order which protects them until the issue is heard in court.
The union wants the government to implement the return-to-work formula which wants the government to fight corruption from its systems, address pay concerns as well as the issue of postgraduate fees.