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High expectations as government is set to meet striking doctors

By Graham Kajilwa | Updated Sun, January 8th 2017 at 17:55 GMT +3
Empty beds in a hospital after doctors commenced their strike (Photo: Beverlyne Musili/Standard)

A meeting scheduled for Monday between doctors and the government is what Kenyans are banking on to have normal services resume in their health facilities.

After doctors dismissed a Sh4 billion deal awarded by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu have scheduled another meeting for Monday. The deal however never factored the input of counties considering the devolved units employ up to 80 per cent of the 5,000 doctors.

It is 36 days now since the strike commenced on December 5, 2016 with the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) standing their ground that they will accept nothing short of  the 2013 negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement(CBA).

"We have scheduled consultative meeting on January 9, 2017. Other key stakeholders from both the National Government and County Governments will be in-attendance," said Rotich.

The meeting is also expected to be graced by all the necessary government agencies among them Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and Public Service Commission (PSC). Council of Governors Chair Peter Munya has already made it clear that if doctors agree to the awarded pay grade, then it will be the National Government that will foot the extra Sh4 billion.

"For the rest of this financial year, it will be handled by the National government itself until the next financial year when counties will take it up," said Munya.

What doctors refused is an enhanced pay grade above that of other civil servants that awarded the lowest (intern) Sh196, 000 from the current Sh140, 000 and the highest to make Sh472, 000.

"Besides the monetary benefits, the Government has extended additional non-monetary benefits including house -mortgages (ranging from Sh10million to Sh20million), car loans (Up to Sh5 million) and training (up to Sh11 million) up to for all medical personnel in the Country," reads the new deal.

All the above is contained in the contentious CBA the doctors want implemented but the government has maintained that a new one the way to go. This is because the previous one though valid, was signed in 2013 before counties came into play.

"Considering the vital role played by CBA's in fostering harmony between employees and employers, the Government is ready and willing to negotiate and conclude a CBA within 60 days from the return to work date," said Rotich.

Data has already revealed that if doctors agree to the deal, they will be earning seven times more compared to a Ugandan medic. Whereas an intern doctors in Kenya has been earning Sh196, 100, a Ugandan makes Sh24, 800, Sh41, 600 in Tanzania, Sh34, 600 in Nigeria and Sh206, 000 in South Africa.

A Kenyan medical officer (promoted from intern) is set to earn a minimum of Sh221, 000 in the new deal. However, his colleague in Uganda is paid Sh46, 800, Sh68, 400 in Tanzania, Sh162, 400 in Botswana and Sh125, 400 in Nigeria.

"The offer is highly competitive. What the government did is to bring labour market equity at par or certainly well above the market region. We look forward to a positive outcome from the doctors," said State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu. KMPDU has also clarified contrary to the claims of a 300 per cent raise, the actual raise is between 150 and 180 per cent.

"Resisting implementation of doctors' CBA is no difference to the government killing public health care to pave way for privatization of the same," said KMPDU Chair Samuel Oroko.