It is back to the drawing board for the government after doctors rejected a pay increment offer by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) made it clear yesterday that it would not give in to any deal outside the negotiated Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Even a meeting at the National Treasury by Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich and Health CS Dr Cleopa Mailu yesterday failed to soften the position of the striking doctors.
The Uhuru-brokered deal had not only given doctors a 40 per cent pay increase but also elevated their entry level to job group M from L. The increase meant the lowest paid intern doctor was to pocket Sh196,000, up from Sh140,000 and the highest would get Sh472,000.
The President's deal was also sweetened with other benefits, including mortgage of between Sh10 million and Sh20 million, a car loan of up to Sh5 million and training programmes amounting to Sh11 million.
The government had also offered a 30 to 60 days limit to deliberate on a new CBA.
President Kenyatta had also handed the doctors a flat rate risk allowance of Sh10,000 and more than doubled their call allowance from Sh30,000 to Sh66,000.
The government said it was disappointed the deal had been rejected.
"We are disappointed that doctors did not accept the government's offer. But we have to continue with talks to break the deadlock. It is not only painful but disheartening, considering those suffering are our brothers and sisters," said Rotich.
The strike enters its 34th day today.
Rotich said another meeting will be held on Monday and will be attended by key government agencies, including the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) and the Council of Governors, which had been kept out of the meeting between the union and the President.
When KMPDU National Advisory Council met yesterday to deliberate on the deal, the union unanimously dismissed it.
Led by 290 consultants attached to Kenyatta National Hospital and the University of Nairobi, the doctors also announced that medical students should not report to school on Monday as there will be no teaching in the referral hospitals where the consultants work.
"The issue of discussion is not about increasing salaries, but implementation of the CBA which seeks to improve work environment, research and discipline in the profession. We should not be distracted from these issues with money," said Prof Elijah Ogola, a cardiology specialist.
"In the absence of clinical services in the two referral hospitals, KNH and Moi Teaching, medical schools cannot re-open, at least until the strike has been resolved."
Ogola said the court affirmed the validity of the CBA.
KMPDU chairman Samuel Oroko said although they sympathise with Kenyans, the government is fully to blame for the impasse.