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Mediation team calls for quick signing of salary deal to end doctors’ three-month impasse

By Protus Onyango | Published Wed, March 8th 2017 at 00:00, Updated March 7th 2017 at 22:11 GMT +3
Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Secretary General Ouma Oluga (left) chats with Sheikh Adan Wachu during a court sitting where they were allowed more time for talks. PHOTO: WILLIS AWANDU/STANDARD

Religious leaders mediating the impasse between doctors and their employer have called for speedy signing of a deal brokered yesterday.

The clerics have been holding meetings with Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KPMDU), the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors.

Speaking to the Press in Nairobi yesterday, the religious leaders said the only sticky issue was whether to sign the revised collective bargaining agreement (CBA) or a return-to-work formula first.

The mediation team comprised Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary Sheikh Adan Wachu, Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Kenya Conference of Catholics Bishops, Bishop John Warari of the Evangelical Association of Kenya and Rev Julius Mwamba of PCEA.

"We have done 99 per cent of our mandate. What remains is the signing. Government including county governments have asked for more time to study the revised CBA," Sapit said, adding that the employers were willing to sign the return-to-work formula immediately.

"But doctors want the CBA signed first before the return-to-work formula, fearing that they could be short-changed as happened in 2013," he said.

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He said the team had met with President Uhuru Kenyatta thrice, National Treasury officials and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and all outstanding issues had been resolved.

"All the parties involved including the President have been very supportive. The doctors were very much worried about the repercussions but the President has promised that no one will be victimised and promised to pay the money promised... The doctors have agreed (to take) what Government has offered them," Sapit added.

He revealed that another thorny issue had been the allowances but they also reached a compromise.

"In the revised CBA, Government is ready to pay either doctors' or risk allowance but not both. If doctors agree, the doctors' allowance will be backdated to October 1 last year or risk allowance backdated to July 1 last year," he said.

The religious leaders revealed how frustrating the mediation talks were but they were happy their efforts were bearing fruit. "Our interest in this matter is driven by the immense suffering of innocent Kenyans occasioned by the ongoing strike by the medics. The fatalities and suffering are immeasurable and can't be compensated," Mr Rotich said.

He added: "As religious leaders, we have managed so far to bridge the gap between the doctors and (their employers). What remains now is effecting the agreements reached as per the court's direction."

Mr Warari noted that the parties involved should move quickly and sign the agreements.

"Dialogue is the only way forward. There should be no excuse now to let Kenyans continue dying in their homes. Let the pending issues be completed so that doctors resume work. We will be happy if this happens even tonight," he said.

Mr Wachu reiterated that doctors had no option but to return to work since all their demands had been addressed.