Govt. withdraws 50 percent pay hike offer, after striking doctors reject latest proposal

NAIROBI, Kenya, 8 March 2017 – The government has withdrawn a 50 percent pay rise offer to striking doctors after they turned down the government’s latest proposal. The Chairman of the Council of Governors Governor Peter Munya flagged by President Uhuru Kenyatta and Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. Cleopa Mailu, made the announcement that the government has rescinded the offer and will no longer negotiate with doctors during the 4th Devolution Conference in Naivasha.

The move comes after the doctors turned down an additional risk allowance amounting to KES 4.5 million that would have been backdated to July 2016 on condition that doctors call off the strike, rising the doctors’ annual wage bill to over KSh14.5 billion as a singular budgetary item.
The Governor said doctors, pharmacists and dentists within the public service will now have to negotiate with their particular employers either national government or County government.
However, he pointed out that doctors who have been reporting for duty despite their colleagues being on strike will receive the pay rise effective January 2017.

The government he added will provide security to doctors who are willing to return to work and take disciplinary action against those who fail to resume work despite being directed to do so.
The Governor Munya also announced that the government will review the registration and certification procedure for medical practitioners and the role of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) in the process, with a view of reverting the function back to the Ministry of Health.

“Every doctor swears a solemn oath that they shall do no harm. Continuing with this illegal strike in the face of the enhanced government offer which is on the very edge of affordability and sustainability is to betray that solemn oath. It is continuing to do harm to the same Kenyans who sacrifices in terms of taxes paid, for the training medical doctors receive,” he noted.

The President Kenyatta urged the striking medics to be practical in their demands and reminded them of their call to serve and to protect lives. He noted that government’s offer would have seen medical interns earn more than medical practitioners working in the private health sector. The Head of State also commended clinical officers and nurses for continued service especially in the wake of the doctors’ strike.

He acknowledged the challenges that exist within the public health sector adding that the government will resolve them with time. The government has already taken various steps that are aimed at enhancing service delivery. Among them is the free maternal care programme; the medical equipment scheme and increased access to health financing through the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

“You have to recognize that we are paying these people and we have offered these people more money than even doctors in the private sector receive. An intern today is being offered more money than a medical practitioner working at Nairobi Hospital, Aga Khan Hospital, Matter hospital and for working two hours in a government hospital and then they run to do private practice in their clinics. This is blackmail and we are not going to entertain it,” warned the President.

The doctors have been on strike for about three months. The dispute has been before the Courts; which declared the strike as illegal and ordered doctors to return to work. Those orders were ignored by the leadership and members of the doctor’s union. The Employment and Labour Relations Court extended room for compliance numerous times and even committing doctors to civil jail for Contempt of Court.
Various players have also been engaged in the mediation process. This includes the Kenya National Human Rights Commission, the Central Organization of Trade Unions, the Law Society of Kenya as well as religious leaders.

However all these efforts have failed.