Details of the unsuccessful talks between President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ministry of Health, Treasury and doctors’ representatives can be revealed today.
Sources privy to the discussions to end the 36-day doctors’ strike told The Standard that President Uhuru has personally been involved in efforts to end the stalemate.
Uhuru invited representatives of the the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) on December 31 last year for a meeting.
Though the doctors’ representatives were apprehensive about the invitation, they honoured it, hoping to strike a deal to end their problems.
It turned out that the President was the opposite of everything they expected.
“He was calm, receptive, cordial and we had a very sober and promising discussion. He asked us what we wanted and we told him. We didn’t expect this from the Head of State,” said an official who attended the meeting.
The doctors told Uhuru that they wanted the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) they signed with Government in 2013 implemented.
The President agreed and promised them that he would convene a meeting but asked KMPDU officials other officials they wanted at the meeting.
“We told him that we wanted Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu, his Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, Public Service Commission (PSC) and Council of Governors (CoG),” said the source.
The President suggested that representatives of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) be present in the meeting.
“I can’t guarantee that governors will be there but I will talk to CoG chairman Peter Munya to attend,” Uhuru told the officials.
On Tuesday, January 3, this year, Ministry of Health officials and CoG held another meeting in Nairobi. But unfortunately, they were not invited for the State House meeting in Mombasa the following day.
The KMPDU team was also unaware of the meeting but they were in Mombasa on Tuesday meeting their members when they received a call for the State House meeting.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 10am on Wednesday but didn’t begin until noon. It went on for three hours until 3pm.
“We had Mailu, Muraguri, Rotich, SRC’s chairperson Sarah Serem but not the governors. For the first two hours, it was just the usual chitchat and no concrete discussion,” the source said.
When there seemed to be no progress in the discussions, the President, who was not in the meeting but sat all through in an adjoining room, got agitated.
“He called us (KMPDU) to the room and told us that he wanted to announce to the country that the strike was over and was getting impatient that we weren’t agreeing,” the source said.
Uhuru asked them what they wanted and they insisted on implementation of the full CBA.
The President also called the Mailu team and gave them 15 minutes to reach a deal.
“There was no progress and the President stormed the meeting. Why can’t you agree. Doctors, what do you want? Give them Sh10,000 for risk allowance, the 40 per cent salary increment. If it is about other matters including job groups, we discussed and agreed,” Uhuru told those in the meeting.
Then Uhuru asked them that they agree and he addresses the nation. The doctors stood firm and told him that they couldn’t agree before talking to their members. They said that apart from salary, training, promotion, employment and grading were part of their wishes.
Serem is said to have stood her ground, telling the doctors that there was no way that they could be given a 300 per cent salary increment as it will take them above most senior civil servants.
The KPMDU team refused and thanked the President for his gesture but promised to return to him on Friday December 6 this year.
On Friday, they headed to Treasury where they met Rotich and Mailu.
“It took less than 10 minutes from the time we entered Rotich’s office and when we left. We reported to them that we wanted the offer enhanced and improved. But Rotich looked at us and ordered us to leave his office. Mailu said Government will employ foreign doctors,” the source said.
The doctors blame Mailu and Muraguri for the impasse, saying that they thought, being from the medical profession, they could understand the doctors well.
“They have become a stumbling block. Muraguri has categorically said that interns can’t ear Sh325,000 we are advocating for,” the source said.