Doctors say that the government has not kept its word in reviewing the 2017-2022 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) despite issuing it a 60 days period to avert a strike that was meant to take place in January 2023.
Speaking on Monday, March 6, during an interview on Citizen TV, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Davji Atella said doctors would proceed with the industrial strike.
Davji argued that the doctors would be honouring a 2021 court order that had directed them to go on an industrial strike if the government failed to honour the CBA agreement.
Some of the grievances the doctors want addressed are; basic salary adjustments, creation of call rooms, posting of medical interns, employment of more doctors and provision of working tools.
"On January 4, 2023, we sat with the Council of Governors, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour and agreed on a framework to ensure that the CBA that was signed in 2017 is fully implemented. Up to date, we have been waiting to be given the report of the multi-agency committee that was sitting," said Atella.
"If the government has not complied with this, then we will proceed with industrial action," he added.
The doctors called off the strike that was to begin on January 6, 2023, to facilitate dialogue with the government.
At the time, Atella said President William Ruto had promised to have all CBAs implemented, in addition to having health committees address health emerging issues at national and county levels.
On his part, Muthomi Njuki, the Health Committee Chairperson at the Council of Governors (COG), says the government has released funds to honour parts of the CBA agreement.
"We have now absorbed all doctors who are coming fresh from college and placed them on internships. All allowances have also been paid. The only issue in contention is the basic pay, a matter that is agreed by the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC)," said Njuki on Citizen TV.
On the issue of health services in the counties being taken back to the national government, Njuki said the doctors were better off being paid by the county governments rather than the national government.
KMPDU and other unions have been lobbying for a Health Service Commission that will tackle emerging challenges in the sector. They say that public health facilities are more unpredictable today than they were 10 years ago when devolution started.