Inside Politics

Governors seek talks with medics to end 51-day strike

Friday, May 3rd, 2024 06:50 | By
CoG chair Anne Waiguru (centre) addresses the media alongside Vice Chairman and Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi (right), Nandi Governor Stephen Sang (left) and fellow governors at their headquarters, Delta House, Nairobi yesterday. PD/ALEX MBURU
CoG chair Anne Waiguru (centre) addresses the media alongside Vice Chairman and Wajir Governor Ahmed Abdullahi (right), Nandi Governor Stephen Sang (left) and fellow governors at their headquarters, Delta House, Nairobi. PD/ALEX MBURU

The Council of Governors (CoG) has urged the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to negotiate with the respective County Governments on issues of their Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs).

This even as the government  asked Healthcare workers who are on strike to resume duty since there are only two outstanding issues out of the 19 raised by their unions leading to the nationwide strike.

Yesterday, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha and Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore said the government has shown goodwill in addressing issues raised, adding that the outstanding issues are on how to address the remuneration of Medical Interns and Registrars before the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

“We are appealing on the Medical staff unions not to go back on the matters have already been resolved, we acknowledge that out of 19 issues that were in dispute we only have two pending which are to do with medical interns and registrars which will be resolved,” said Nakhumicha.

Aided mediation

According to Ms Bore, the government was ready for a court aided mediation process to resolve all the contentious issues in case they failed to resolve the two pending issues bearing that Kenyans were suffering due to medical attention in public health facilities.

“The government has shown goodwill in this matter, we are calling on the medical staff unions to also consider the challenges that the country is facing at the moment and let their members go back to work as we resolve the pending issues,” said Bore.

At the joint Parliamentary Health committee chaired by Senator Jackson Mandago (Uasin Gishu) and Dr Robert Pukose (Endebes), KMPDU Secretary General Devji Atellah said the doctors were ready to resume work if all the issues that led to their strike were addressed.

Atellah charged that the country needs at least 25,000 doctors employed to address the shortages in the health sector.

Atellah said that they wanted the terms of services for doctors across the country harmonized and that they have no business being on strike if the National and County Governments had addressed the issues they raised earlier to avert an industrial action.

“The Salaries and Remuneration Commission has proved to be enemies of the Doctors because they have always put roadblocks whenever we reach an agreement. Let it be made clear to Kenyans that it is not our wish to be on strike but we have no other option at the moment,” said Atellah.

Enhanced allowances

CoG maintained that all Counties have implemented the enhanced allowances for doctors as per the 2017 CBA, adding that the health function needs to be fully costed and adequate resources availed for counties to implement the function.

This she explained was through the whole of Nation approach committee which collapsed on April 22 and April 23, 2024 due failure by the KMPDU to attend the meetings and to execute a Return To Work Formula (RTWF).

According to Waiguru, the no show by the doctors rendered all efforts made by the County Governments to resolve the long outstanding matter, to no avail.

She explained that part of the agreement reached was that the union was to immediately suspend the strike and the Union members participating in the strike arising from the Strike to immediately return to work but not later than within 24 hours of executing the deed.

Wauguru tabled that a County Senior Medical officer is paid a gross monthly salary of Sh470,000 with a Basis salary of Sh203,000, House allowance Sh56,000, Commuter allowance Sh20,000, Emergency call allowance Sh80, 000, Non-Practice allowance Sh60,000, Extraneous allowance of Sh40, 000 and Risk allowance Sh20, 000 respectively.

In addition, Waiguru disclosed that County Governments have approximately 84,001 health care workers-Doctors (5,239), Nurses (30,830), Clinical Officers (6,296), Universal Healthcare Workers (8550), Covid – 19 – Doctors (441) and other healthcare workers (32, 645).

“There is no framework established for the staffing norms and standards and therefore County Governments recruit health workers based on their needs and budget available. State Department for Public Health and Professional Standards should develop staffing norms and standards to guide counties on the staff establishment for each County Facility. Adequate finances be provided to cater for the staff emoluments arising from implementation of the norms and standards,” said Waiguru.

Devolution inception

The CoG boss told the joint Health committee that since the inception of Devolution, there has been an increase in health facilities from 8466 in 2013 to 14655 in 2023, an increase in the number of doctors from 874 in 2013 to 5,239 in 2023 and increase in the number of nurses from 6620 in 2013 to 30,830 in 2023.

“We acknowledge the critical role of the Senate in protecting devolution and championing for increased resource allocation towards the devolved functions. We call on the Senate to support the speedy conclusion of the unbundling, costing and transfer of functions,” pleaded Waiguru.

In addition, Waiguru said that the County Governments have not yet recognized the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) as a Union representing the Medical Laboratory Officers because employers are expected to undertake due diligence of the membership

Kenya Medical Association (KMA) has advised the government to establish a multi-sectoral taskforce to review the health sector holistically beyond the current situation.

This even as they advised the government to acknowledge that there is a signed Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) of 2017 and negotiated, adding that the government should strive to ensure that the dignity of doctors is maintained by coming down hard on those who demean the profession.

“Medical professionals make enormous sacrifices to offer quality healthcare at the expense of their own well-being. They work long and odd hours. They encounter psychological or physical trauma at the workplace and are prone to moral injury,” said KMA President Dr Simon Mucara Kigondu.

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