Nyeri governor threatens to sack striking doctors

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Nyeri Governor Mutahi Kahiga wants devolved units to be party to fresh negotiations between striking doctors and the national government.

Kahiga who serves as the Council of Governors (CoG) Labour Committee chairman said a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) should be negotiated by the county and national governments.

“There are 48 governments that have a legal mandate to negotiate their CBAs with existing labour unions,” he said.

The governor said currently, the challenge is that a CBA was signed in 2017 between the government and doctors union when, legally it should have been signed between an employer and the employee or the union.

“As Nyeri county, we are ready to sit down and negotiate with Kenya Medical Practitioners and Doctors Union (KMPDU) Nyeri chapter and renegotiate an agreement with them,” he said.

Kahiga emphasised that any negotiation on a CBA with Nyeri county government employees will be handled at the county level by the Public Service Board, the relevant departments and unions. 

He noted that out of 139 doctors in Nyeri county, 18 were on study leave and 83 were approved for training. Out of 139 doctors, 62 are on strike which is affecting medical services in the county.

“I instruct the Department of County Public Service Management and the County Treasury to immediately stop salary processing and payment to the affected doctors,” he said.

"We shall move for the summary dismissal of all doctors who continue on strike,” he added.

Kahiga revealed that the county issued 62 show-cause letters to doctors who were on strike and only three have responded. 

He said his administration has provided sufficient resources to doctors yet they still joined the strike. "The government has also converted the terms of employment of all contractual staff including medical officers into permanent and pensionable," he said.

Kihiga regretted that the doctors strike has caused untold suffering to residents who have a right to healthcare.

The county government had earlier sent out a letter notifying all doctors on strike of the court orders and directing them to report to work without victimisation on April 4, 2024. 

Meanwhile, the doctors strike continues to affect the provision of health services in central Kenya.

However, a spot check at Naromoru Level Four Hospital in Nyeri County revealed that most outpatient services were going on uninterrupted.  

Jane Wangechi said that she had been treated and given medicine.  "The services at the hospital are good, and I was not harassed," she said.

At the Nyeri County Referral Hospital, outpatient services were being offered albeit at a slow pace.

Majority of patients in need of admission to the wards sought services in private hospitals.

Only a few nurses and support staff were on duty at the facility.

Private and mission hospitals in Nyeri County, experienced an influx of patients. 

In Murang'a county hundreds of patients resorted to seeking services in private facilities in neighbouring counties of Nyeri, Kiambu and Nairobi.