Some weeks back, we published an article explaining how greedy doctors’ officials had become, by declining a 50% pay rise. Of course we were called names and told we had received a ‘brown envelope’… we hadn’t and still haven’t.
I have to start by saying that releasing the doctors’ officials before their term was over was a big mistake. Perhaps I’m being petty, but I think the reasons the appeal judges set them free, i.e. to continue with the negotiations, have amounted to nothing.
I still believe that the entire court case had political backing, and now I’m starting to think the whole strike has too.
First and foremost, the lowest doctor earns Sh140,000. I have to admit that’s not a lot of money, especially after the government takes its taxes, but they are still the best paid profession in the country.
Of course they undergo a very specialized training, but does that allow them to hold the country hostage for 3 months?
The CBA they keep talking about was probably awarded to them after they issued threats of striking. Whoever signed it was likely doing so with full knowledge that the problem will be someone else’s.
Who in their right mind would give you a 300% pay rise. It rarely happens in the private sector, and it sure as hell doesn’t happen in the government.
Actually if we look back, government increments are usually very low. Mostly less than 10%.
Yet this time, despite all the warnings from the World Bank, IMF and other institutions about our ballooning wage bill, the government went out of its way and offered a 50% rise.
In the negotiations, doctors have continued to play hardball insisting that their salaries be trippled.
It may be so tempting to support the doctors in this case, but for once use your head.
And if you think Raila, Kalonzo, Mudavadi or any other person as president (despite their utterances now), would give the doctors a 300% pay rise…
At the same time if we flip the script and Uhuru happens to be in the opposition, I bet he would be all over the place telling us why doctors should be paid.
But I think from State House anyone is able to see a bigger picture. What do the different moves mean for the economy? What will increasing the doctors’ salaries do to the wage bill? Will lecturers also strike and demand a similar treatment (Ooh, they already have). Will teachers rise up again with a view that their last increment was inconsequential due to recent developments? Will Kenya Power employees also threaten to do the same? Civil servants? Public servants? What about all the uncountable unions in the country?
Giving in to doctors demands will not only have an instant impact on the wage bill (and in extension more poverty for the poorest), but it will also have a snowball effect.
As I had pointed out last time, the moment we no longer need roads and bridges (perhaps when we start flying our second hand cars), when we no longer require energy generation projects, or irrigation projects, or more hospitals and schools. Or safer towns and cities. The moment we no longer need our garbage collected, our kids learning for free, our products and attractions marketed abroad, our borders protected..
Perhaps then we can direct all our budget to paying salaries.
And I’m happy that more Kenyans are seeing beyond their noses and understanding that the doctors’ salary demands are unsustainable, and that there’s no greater act of selfishness than rejecting a 50% offer.