Uhuru agrees to raise striking doctors’ allowances after clergy intervention

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Doctors demonstrate on Harambee Avenue at the start of their strike, December 5, 2016. /MONICAH MWANGI

The government has proposed the “good gesture” of backdating striking doctors’ risk allowances to July 2016, a total of Sh600 million.

The alternative is to backdate the emergency allowance to October 2016, an expense that will total Sh570 million.

This is according to a report presented to the Appeals court on Tuesday by representatives of religious leaders including Cardinal John Njue of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“The effect of these agreements will increase the doctor’s wage bill to Sh14.5 billion per annum,” read the report.

Njue and his team reported that they held four meetings with President Uhuru Kenyatta and union officials, and prayed with him for a solution to the strike that is on its 93rd day.

“We were informed that when KMPDU met the President in 2016, it was agreed that each doctor be awarded a sum of Sh10,000 a month as risk allowance,” read their document.

It added that the emergency call allowance was to range from Sh66,000 for interns to Sh80,000 for the highest paid doctor.

Effects of the increments would raise doctors’ payments to Sh13.9 billion per year, without the backdating.

The members of the clergy reported that Uhuru told them doctors’ remuneration before adjustments totals Sh10.2 billion a year, the government’s portion being Sh3 billion and counties getting Sh7.2 billion.

“The proposals have been agreed upon by both parties. What remains is for parties to agree on the modalities for the signing of a return to work formula, the recognition agreement by the 47 counties and the union, and then the signing of the CBA,” the report stated.

It added that the health workers will be paid for the days they missed work.

The government said the money was dispatched to counties.

Judge Martha Koome thanked religious leaders saying issues in the Collective Bargaining Agreement had been agreed upon.

She asked mediators in the strike to sign the recognition agreement following the breakthrough in the talks.

The Council of Governors and the Health ministry are to sign the agreement by Monday.

“The recognition agreement is ready. What we don’t have is a return-to-work formula,” Koome said.

While making a plea for the signing as a sign of commitment, she said: “We feel the burden of Kenyans suffering in hospitals. This court will not be sitting next week but we have agreed to ask the President to constitute a special bench to hear the matter.”

About 5,000 doctors in public hospitals have been on strike since December 5 last year, demanding implementation of the 2013 CBA they signed with the Health ministry.

The government had said it was ready to negotiate a new agreement, insisting that the one signed that year cannot be implemented because it was not registered.

The strike has been turbulent with both sides maintaining hard line stances.

-the-star.co.ke

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