The government has lost patience with the slow pace of talks to end doctors’ strike and ordered that the medics resume duty immediately.
A visibly irritated President Kenyatta and governors on Tuesday took a short break from the ongoing devolution conference in Naivasha to address the job boycott that is in its 94th day.
The president and the county bosses directed county service boards and the Health ministry to take disciplinary measures against all doctors who would fail to heed the order to resume duty.
The leaders of the two levels of government also withdraw a Sh14.5 billion enhanced package that they had offered the medics as they vowed to protect doctors who will resume work.
The enhanced offer came with a 50 per cent pay rise among other benefits.
Failure by doctors to accept an additional Sh600 million offered by the government led to the drastic action.
“This additional offer was on condition that the doctors call off the strike and report to work today (Tuesday) morning,” they said in a joint statement read by Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya.
“Consequently, as a result of the doctors failure to call off the strike, the government has now rescinded this offer and there will be no further negotiations on remuneration.”
The leaders said each individual doctor, pharmacist and dentist within the public service would now have to negotiate with their particular employer, be they national or county government.
The government, they said, would also review registration and certification of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, with a view of reverting its functions to the Health ministry of health.
“Every doctor swears a solemn oath that they shall not do harm. Continuing with this illegal strike in the face of enhanced government offer which is at the very edge of affordability and sustainability is to betray that solemn oath,” said Mr Munya.
Describing the strike as illegal, the governors and the President said they had made strenuous efforts to amicably resolve the industrial action up to late into the night on Monday.
Mr Kenyatta, a number of governors and religious were involved in the talks only for the doctors to turn around and rubbish the efforts.
Consequently, the government has now directed that doctors who have been on duty receive the offer of new allowances with effect from January 1, 2017.
“Those doctors who are on strike and are willing to return to work are expected to resume duty at their respective duty stations with immediate effect,” said the statement.
All post graduate medical students sponsored by the government were directed to report to their duty stations with immediate effect while interns were ordered to report to their internship centres to complete their training.
“The national and county governments and all other employers in the public health centre, to continue and conclude disciplinary process being undertaken against absconding staff in order to facilitate filling of vacancies that may be left as a result of this disciplinary action,” the leaders said.
Hours earlier, Mr Kenyatta had accused the health workers of blackmailing the government into giving into their demands, which he said were impossible to meet.
But the leaders steered clear of the ongoing court process to end the strike that has left in its wake thousands of poor patients dead.