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Looming strike as Government is issued with 16 days ultimatum

Health & Science
 Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union(KMPDU) members led by Chairman Dr Samuel Oroko(L) and Secretary-General Ouma Oluga(2nd L) address a press conference at Public Service Commission in Nairobi. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

The government has been issued with a 16 day ultimatum to complete negotiations on the doctors' Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) lest the medics seek alternative methods to be heard.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union ( KMPDU) has said 'the last chance' for the Ministry of Health to complete the talks and have the CBA registered in court as per the Return to Work Formula that was signed in March 14.

According to the RTWF that ended the 100 day strike, the doctors union, Council of Governors and the ministry were to come up with a CBA and have it registered in court within 60 days-which expired in May 14-after the signing.

However, KMPDU officials leveled accusations to the government saying the talks have been 'painfully slow' and 'frustrating'.

This has seen them sign two extensions to the timelines set in the RTWF; one on May 11 which is expiring today prompting another extension signed on Friday to stretch it further for 16 days ending June 14.

"We cannot be discussing the same document that we gave them three months ago-and they have been aware of it for the last seven years," said KMPDU Chair Dr Samuel Oroko.

He added: "We have given them the last chance. When it is done, there will be no more extension. We will go back to the doctors to seek further directions."

The union officials vented their disappointment saying the government side has been skipping meetings and changing its team that so far they have been reviewing the same 20 page document with close to 11 different teams.

The doctors further accused the Ministry for frustrating intern doctors criticizing a just signed deal between Cuba and Kenya that will see some specialists being hired for the country.

KMPDU Secretary General Dr Ouma Oluga said there are close to 1,400 doctors who have not been employed due to frustrations by the counties and the Ministry's Department of Human Resource.

"In a population of 46 million, we have just 3,962 doctors. We have our own doctors here job less but the government can afford to go around shopping for foreign ones," said Oluga.

He fingered one Mr Njoroge from the department saying despite even the directives from the President to have all doctors paid their dues, intern doctors are either not paid or given their salaries in bits of quarters, or halves.

He claimed the ministry has failed to account for Sh2.7 billion meant for intern doctors as there are discrepancies in payments and they are done using vouchers, not payslips.

He said on top of this, the ministry failed to pay tuition fees for doctors taking Masters Degrees in The University of Nairobi and Moi University forcing some to pay for themselves.

"Yet the treasury allocated Sh250 million. Where did it go? This is the kind of corruption that is dragging our progress," said Oluga.

The SG called on the new Council of Governors Chair Turkana Governor Josphat Nanok for a sit down this week to streamline absorption of the doctors in counties.

"The problem is that we have individuals in counties rooting to have their relatives and friends to be employed as doctors, no wonder we have quacks being discovered," Oluga said.

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