Medical schools have been offered a temporary reprieve after doctors who work there decided to call off a strike that would have started Monday in order to give room for talks.
The lecturers had given the universities a 14-day ultimatum to effect the allowances failure to which they will down their tools. The decision announced yesterday morning was as a result of a request by the government as the new Cabinet Secretary of the Health Ministry settles in.
The 605 medics are demanding to be paid the medical risk allowances and the emergency call allowances awarded to doctors last year after their three-month strike. Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret largely depend on medical schools to offer their services.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) in a letter sent to the Ministry of Health and Education have asked the government to speed up negotiations even as it gives them time.
“We kindly implore you to move with speed to harmonize the emergency call and medical risk allowances including paying all arrears owed to doctor lecturers not later than the closure of March payroll 2018,” said the letter signed by KPPDU secretary general Ouma Oluga.
The bone of contention is the fact that the medics are employed by their respective university councils, but the Commercial Bargaining Agreement between the state and doctors last year was signed by KMPDU, the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors.
This has left the medical doctors hanging in a balance. The CBA doubled the salaries of all doctors and gave them new allowances. Medical risk allowance and emergency call allowances are usually paid to practicing doctors every month because of the risks and nature of their work.
The government factored an increase in the salaries of doctors in the Sh4.8 billion supplementary budget passed last year. Had the new allowances for doctor tutors been granted, a professor will earn an extra Sh86,000 a month while a senior lecturer will go home with an extra Sh70,000.
The lecturers have the support of the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU).