NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – In what seems to be an about turn from the earlier reconciliatory tone, the Council of Governors has now told striking doctors to consider the plight of Kenyans and resume work by Wednesday or lose their jobs.
The Council’s Chairperson Peter Munya says any doctor who will not resume work will get a show cause letter, after which if the fail to offer an explanation, their positions will be advertised
“By Wednesday, if they will not have resumed, they will be issued with show cause letters, so that a disciplinary process can start in accordance with the public service regulations. So that within a week if they fail to explain why they are not working, then dismissal letters will start to be issued,” he asserted.
“You cannot negotiate with someone who keeps on saying CBA, CBA… we have demonstrated that this CBA was not properly arrived at according to the law and we are still saying we are ready to negotiate.”
Of the doctors working, he said majority were locals and unlike ‘others’ who want to keep “moving from one County to another place attending seminars and doing their things.”
“Those who are working in the private sector are not earning better than what we are offering.”
This was agreed during an extra-ordinary meeting held at the Council’s headquarters, attended by several Governors and Ministry of Health officials led by CS Cleopa Mailu.
Munya said the County Governments were not willing to wait for a solution any longer, since the doctor’s union has remained adamant despite the National Government giving them, “one of the most reasonable offer.”
“We are saying let us be reasonable on what we are asking. The offer that has been given is very reasonable compared with other countries and the private sector.”
If fired, he didn’t however say where the new doctors will come from, but instead posed a question; we have Kenyan doctors working in other countries, will it be wrong to also have some Cuban doctors working for Kenya?
In a move they said will help to curb a similar problem in the future, the Council said new doctors will be applying directly to respective county, away from the previous process, where they were centrally employed and assigned to their respective working stations.
“All of them were being posted and we are saying this is part of the problem. From today, there will be direct posting of doctors. Both National and County Governments will be advertising and then you can apply for the job,” he said.
According to the demands, Munya said the doctors want interns to earn Sh400,000 against the Sh190,000 the government has offered.
He says the Sh4 billion offer by the National Government is reasonable and has faulted the doctors for rejecting it while saying they are considering absorbing graduates to take up vacant positions.
Mailu on his part insisted that the disputed CBA requiring the National and County Governments to raise their salary by 300 percent is not implementable, while calling on the doctor’s union to accept the government’s offer.
“As a government, we are willing to deliver a complete CBA within 60 to 90 days. We are committed to realise that,” he said.
“The offer is still on the table and therefore, the increment we were giving from January this year’s still stand and no victimization of doctors.”
According to the CS, the government has agreed to implement 80 percent of the disputed CBA, with the main contentious issue being the section requiring a 300 percent pay increment.
“The government has exercised prudent engagement honestly to the doctors whom we value. They have however not moved an inch,” he lamented. “Since the negotiations started, the doctors have not given an inch towards reconciliation. We know the strike is illegal. Flouting the law is not the way to solve the problems.”
Another area of dispute includes the requirement for the National Government to employ 1,200 doctors annually , promote 1,000 health officials per year, but he maintained that there are other factors to be considered while making such demands and that is a sole responsibility of the employer.
A letter to KMPDU from SRC indicates that the contentious CBA cannot be cleared for registration since it does not involve all employing agencies- the National and County Governments- as necessitated by the devolved structure.
The CBA, according to the letter read to journalists by the Treasury CS, indicates that it does not conform with the SRC regulations, which requires that all CBAs conform to four years review period.
“The CBA contains policy matters that need to be discussed within the framework of the wider public service since implementation would have implication of other public servants; proposed salary review and other remunerative benefits have impact of the wage bill and therefore, Ministry of Health ought to have demonstrated affordability and sustainability of the same before registration,” reads part of the letter.