, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 7 – Talks to end the ongoing doctors and nurses strike have failed to reach an agreement on the day President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to the health workers to resume work.
Representatives from both unions who had been meeting Health Ministry officials at Afya House were seen walking out in protest, while accusing the government of not being sincere.
““Already the government has moved to court and we have information that it wants to arrest the union officials,” Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Chairman Samuel Oroko told reporters when he led other union officials in a walk-out from a meeting at the Health Ministry.
“And therefore, we have declared that we shall not negotiate until the government withdraws any court issues if they want to negotiate in good faith,” he added.
The talks collapsed hours after the President weighed in on the matter, while appealing to striking health workers to be considerate.
“We are all ready to talk, and we are committed to dialogue and we are sure we will get a solution, let us have mercy for the lives of the people,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State was speaking when he visited Makindu Hospital, one of the public hospitals where doctors and nurses have abandoned work to demand a 300 per cent pay increase.
“Why should we have lost close to twenty people already,” President Kenyatta posed, speaking about the issue for the first time since Monday when the strike started.
The walk out was prompted by an order by the Labour Relations Court which directed the Kilimani Police chief serve officials of the Nurses and Doctors union with a court order issued last week suspending the ongoing strike.
Lady Justice Helen Wasiliwa also ordered the officials to appear in court next Tuesday to show cause why they should not be committed to civil jail for disobeying a court order.
She said that if they fail to appear in court as required, she will not hesitate to issues warrants of arrest.
Failure to reach a consensus effectively means patients who rely on public hospitals will continue suffering, with new reports indicating that there were more deaths in various hospitals Wednesday.
The health workers are demanding a 300 per cent pay increase contained in a 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
By Tuesday, there were close to 20 people who had died from effects of the strike in Mombasa, Kisumu, Busia, Nairobi among other regions while many more patients continued to suffer, with others forced to seek treatment at private hospitals.