, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Talks called by the Labour Ministry to resolve the doctors’ strike hit a deadlock yet again after the medics walked out while accusing the government side of employing dictatorial tactics.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Ouma Oluga stated that 12 official including himself and the chairman were allegedly kicked out of the meeting at the initial stage for no reason.
“When the CS came in, she directed that both sides only choose five members and we did comply without refusal,” Oluga said.
He indicated that even after the union complied with a directive from the Labour Cabinet Secretary to reduce the negotiating team to five they were still belittled and ridiculed by the government team.
“Our team is still being ridiculed and even now I am being told that we have to write letters to show that this is the team and even I together with my chairman we are being told that we are not union officials and representatives of the doctors,” he said.
Oluga reiterated that the solution to the strike was the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2013.
“We have always been on the negotiating table. Even when meetings are called by phone calls, in good engagements I would not attend such a meeting. But because I know the suffering that Kenyans are going through, we want a solution,” he said.
He stated that the union has faithfully and willingly engaged even under threats, intimidation and coercion with the sole objective of getting a lasting solution to the industrial dispute.
“That is why we are here and when we come, it is obstacle after obstacle and disrespect throughout. What the government should know is that they will not dictate to us who they want to talk to,” he said.
Following the walkout, the government side however prevailed upon the union officials to once again go back to the negotiating table and the whole team from KMPDU complied with the appeal.
Patients are still facing a crisis at public hospitals even after the nurses called off their strike.
A spot check at most hospitals in the country painted a desperate picture as most patients failed to get the required services due to the absence of doctors.
Even though nurses were available at some of the hospitals, there were no doctors at hand to handle them.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court had declared the doctors strike illegal and ordered them to resume work immediately.
The court directed union officials to call off the strike that began last Monday, noting that paralysed operations have led to the deaths of about 20 people.
Unions are demanding a 300 percent pay increment for doctors, and 25 to 40 percent rise for nurses.
They said they had signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the government in 2013 but that it is yet to be implemented.
The medics’ union is also asking a review of working conditions, job structures, criteria for promotions, and under-staffing of medical professionals in state hospitals.