Talks flop as doctors accuse state of shying away from negotiations


Government officials allegedly walked out of the negotiation table with doctor's representatives. [Courtesy, KMPDU]

Patients seeking health services in public hospitals will face more frustrating moments after talks to resolve the impasse between the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union and the government flopped a second time.

A statement by KMPDU once more blamed the government for the failure of talks, instead accusing it of abandoning Kenyans. “Today's “Whole of the Nation” meeting at KICC between KMPDU  and the government’s special committee flopped spectacularly! The government made a dash for the door! Cowards they are!," read part of the statement.

Another message reads, “Despite our openness to discussions and negotiations, it’s disheartening that our government has abandoned the negotiation table, failing its citizens. The ongoing doctors’ strike highlights their disregard for public health. It is not the doctors on strike, it’s the government."

KMPDU Deputy Secretary General Dennis Miskellah said: “Talks have flopped. Government walks out”.

Ahead of the resumption of talks, the Council of Governors (CoG) had indicated its position, by issuing an ultimatum to the striking doctors to resume work or risk being fired.

The two sides later converged at the KICC to resume talks. Addressing the press in Nairobi Yesterday, CoG chairperson, Anne Waiguru, emphasised that doctors must obey recent court orders that suspended the strike to allow for negotiations.

"We call upon the doctors who are on strike to go back to work... failure to which the respective counties which are their employers will be at liberty to take any appropriate actions," Waiguru said.

The ultimatum came as the doctors strike entered the fifteenth day on Wednesday. The medics are seeking implementation of a 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and other concessions related to compensation, staffing levels, training opportunities and health insurance.

The governors also urged doctors to accept the "goodwill" extended by national and county governments and engage in talks, reiterating that negotiations can only be held at the county level.

“We urge all doctors across the counties to accept the goodwill extended by national and county governments for dialogue. We remain committed to addressing the doctors' concerns progressively,” said the Kirinyaga governor. 

Outlining measures taken to address the issues raised by KMPDU, Waiguru noter that the delayed posting of interns was a national government’s issue; adding that county governments are ready to accept intern doctors when, and, if, they are posted.

Healthcare workers including doctors sat in the middle of Waiyaki Way as they staged a demonstration on March 22, 2024, as they demanded their Collective Bargaining Agreement implementation. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

"We wish to inform the doctors and the public that all internship training centres within the county facilities are available to receive and welcome the interns," she stated.

While explaining about the disciplinary processes against the medics, the governors affirmed that action would be taken against those who absconded duty. Additionally, she assured that efforts are underway to address payment discrepancies in line with the 2017 CBA.

On the extension of contracts for the UHC staff, the CoG urged the Ministry of Health to implement the resolution agreed on during the summit held in Naivasha.

About the payment arrears for basic salaries, the CoG clarified that the CBA signed was not funded to implement the proposed salaries. The governors, however, noted that as the council they have discussed with the counties to ensure the medics are adequately remunerated.

On failure to provide medical insurance to union members, the CoG pointed said this can only be achieved depending on each county’s financial ability.

Reports by Alex Kiarie, Ryan Kerubo, Maryann Muganda