NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 10 – Striking doctors have dared Governors to make good their threat to sack them this Wednesday, vowing that they will not go back to work until the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2013 is implemented.
Through the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), the medics say the declaration by the Council of Governors has only added more impetus to their industrial action, which has paralysed operations in public hospitals countrywide.
The union’s Secretary General Ouma Oluga indicated that they will not be intimidated and called on all doctors to stay put as they continue to advocate for their rights.
“My fellow doctors, this is what I am telling you. They are saying that tomorrow they will sack you. This is the second time they are ‘sacking’ you. I saw the people who are saying that they will sack you are the ones who look like they are going to be sacked,” he said.
“As a country, we cannot joke around with the 5,000 brightest minds. I think that is a shame for our nation.”
Oluga was addressing doctors at the Railways Club Tuesday morning where he accused the Governors of insincerity stating that the only way to alleviate Kenyans’ suffering is to seriously consider their demands.
“We cannot run out of options as a country. The only two questions that matter is what kind of a healthcare system do we have and the second one is: does that healthcare system cater for your needs as a Kenyan?” he said.
“If you answer those questions, then this cat and mouse game, issuance of warrants of arrest are null and void.”
He stated that the medics will not accept anything less than the implementation of the CBA.
“The question for the whole country is what next for the doctors. We have not run out of options. What comes next is the implementation of the CBA,” he outlined. “You as doctors need to know that the poor man in the village may not have as much knowledge as you about the healthcare system. But you as doctors are now champions of a better healthcare system for all Kenyans.”
He stated that what the doctors were asking for was not much and indicated that it would not cripple the country’s economy.
“We have been told that implementing the CBA will cost Sh12 billion. We have done our mathematics and we know it will cost Sh8.1 billion. But assuming it will cost Sh12.1 billion, this country through NHIF pays India Sh10 billion every single year and out of the Sh51 billion that workers pay in terms of NHIF, Sh33 billion goes to private hospitals,” he explained.
“Now, private hospitals treat one percent of the population, so what doctors are saying is take Sh12 billion, implement the CBA to treat 99 percent of Kenyans.”
He indicated that issuance of warrants of arrest was a sign of bad faith but doctors will remain firm in their demands.
“Now when someone talks like this, a warrant of arrest is issued and the ones who steal money are set free. We will not accept that as doctors,” he said.
On Monday, the Council of Governors told striking doctors to consider the plight of Kenyans and resume work by Wednesday or lose their jobs.
In the meantime, a Nairobi court has ordered the police to arrest KMPDU officials for skipping sentencing, after they were found guilty of contempt.
Justice Helen Wasilwa of the Employment and Labour Relations Court directed the officer in charge of Kilimani Police Station to effect the arrest warrants.
The union officials were required to appear in court Tuesday for sentencing, after the court found them guilty of defying a court order barring them from going on strike.
Justice Wasilwa ruled that the court had no option other than to issue the arrest warrants.