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Doctors and governors on warpath again over Sh3.2 billion

Health & Science - By Brigid Chemweno | March 25th 2017 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300
Chairman of the council of Governors Peter Munya

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union (KMPDU) has put governors on the spot over payment of Sh3.2 billion accumulated salaries for doctors.

KMPDU Secretary General Ouma Oluga dismissed the Council of Governors (CoG) statement that rubbished the doctors’ demands, and accused the governors of causing unnecessary stalemate.

“Salaries of doctors during the industrial action must be paid. The strike was protected in the Constitution and it is the duty of the employer to solve the issue first. There is no act of arguing on that,” Dr Oluga said.

CoG Chair Peter Munya, in a statement, indicated that the governors insisted that there is nowhere in the Return-To-Work Formula (RTWF) deal signed this month, that they committed to pay the three months the doctors were on strike.

Oluga said: “There is a lot of hunger that came out of the doctors’ strike. When money is released for a purpose, it must serve that purpose; you cannot misappropriate it. Hunger on doctors does not help; they are intending to demoralise the doctors.”

Munya termed it fraudulent, unprocedural and illegal to pay doctors accumulated salaries of about Sh3.2 billion without any basis in law when they participated in meetings and signed the RTWF that removed the clause, and faulted union officials for failing to negotiate on the same.

However, Oluga emphasised that the health sector needs to heal, adding that doctors went on strike as a result of victimisation and the formula provides that no party shall victimise the other.

“The salaries must be paid; this is an ego fight. The governors are panicking; there is no reason why doctors should close hospitals because of salaries dispute. The governors should not create another strike,” Oluga said.

Munya disclosed that the County Governments took extra-ordinary measures during the strike to mitigate effects of the Doctors Union thus expending the resources.

In his statement, Munya said: “It is unfortunate that the union has so far not engaged any of the county governments to negotiate for recognition agreements, which is a critical step towards the realisation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).”

The protracted 100-day doctors’ dispute came to an end mid this month after the parties agreed to ensure a new CBA is signed within 60 days.

Under the agreement, doctors are to be placed in their appropriate job groups and promoted in accordance with the revised scheme of service.

It provides that all medical doctors, dental specialists and pharmacists will get a new medical risk allowance of Sh20,000 a month effective from January 1, 2017.

While signing the formula, Munya, in reference to the dispute that started on December 5, going through the Labour Court and eventually ending up at the Court of Appeal following the brief imprisonment of the doctors’ representatives, termed the experience as a painful one that need not be repeated.

At the same time, he said the strike was a lesson towards implementing devolution since health is a devolved function.

The clamour for high perks has seen the government talk tough, and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission is set to review salaries and benefits resulting in pay cuts in the public service.

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