State withdraws Sh14.5b offer for striking doctors, to hire workers afresh

State withdraws Sh14.5b offer for striking doctors, to hire workers afresh
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Meru Governor Peter Munya and other officials during the devolution conference in Naivasha, March 7, 2017. /PSCU

The government has cancelled a Sh14.5 billion offer it earlier made doctors to end their strike that has lasted more than three months.

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It had proposed the “good gesture” of backdating their risk allowances to July 2016, a package that would cost a total of Sh600 million.

The alternative was backdating the emergency allowance to October 2016, an expense that would have added up to Sh570 million.

Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya, who announced the cancellation, said the offer also included a 50 per cent increase in salaries.

Munya said KMPDU’s hard stance on the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2013 provoked the government to withdraw the offer.

The CoG boss noted that the prolonged health workers’ strike was illegal as determined by the Labour Relations court.

He also noted that it had caused real harm and that taxpaying Kenyans had been betrayed.

“Consequently, for failure to call off the strike, the government has now rescinded this offer and there will be no further negotiations,” he said.

Seven KMPDU officials had been sentenced to a month in jail for contempt of court after refusing to end the strike.

But the officials, led by secretary general Ouma Oluga, have insisted that they will only end the stalemate if their demands are met.

Among the doctors’ union’s demands are a 300 per cent increase in their salaries and better working conditions at Kenya’s public hospitals.

Munya said the national and county governments will immediately take disciplinary action against staff who absconded duty to facilitate the hiring of new workers.

The Meru Governor told a press conference attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday that all striking doctors must return to work with immediate effect.

“All post graduate medical students sponsored by the government and who have been on strike must [also] return to work,” he added.

But the chairman said only health workers who have been on duty and those willing to return to work will benefit from the deal reached after intervention by religious leaders.

“Doctors who are on strike but are willing to return to work will also receive the new offer as dated from January 2017,” he said.

The Governor said all the resolutions were reached during a special meeting of governors, the Health ministry and the President.

“We have also resolved that the National Police Service will continue to provide maximum security for doctors who will be on duty,” he said.

Regarding the doctors’ union, the chairman said the government will speedily review its role and the registration and certification procedures of medical practitioners with a view of reverting the function back to Health Ministry.

He spoke during the 4th Annual Devolution Conference at the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Nakuru county.

But KMPDU chairman Samuel Oroko earlier said governors were the ones standing in the way of an agreement.

“We reached an agreement but governors said they were not ready to sign. They claimed they needed 30 days,” he said.

He told county governments that the ball was in their court.

The President earlier warned that doctors would face dire consequences if talks to end their strike bore no fruit.

Uhuru said the health workers were only out to blackmail the government by staging a health crisis, a situation he said is not acceptable.

“If the mediation by religious leaders fails, we will have a problem with them and we will sort them out,” he told the meeting on Tuesday.


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