Talks to end doctors strike collapse after union leaders pull out

By KBC Reporters

Talks to end the ongoing doctors and nurses strike have failed to reach an agreement.

Representatives from both unions who had been meeting Health Ministry officials at Afya House were seen walking out in protest, while accusing the government of not being sincere.

The unions are demanding that the withdrawal of arrest warrants issued against its officials as precondition for resuming talks.

The officials are being accused of going against court orders issued by the Employment and Labor Relations court on Friday last week suspending the strike for 30 days for talks to proceed.

The talks also collapsed hours after the President appealed to striking health workers to be considerate.

Meanwhile, officials of the doctors and nurses unions risk six-month jail terms for failing to comply with court orders issued last week temporarily suspending their strike pending the hearing of an application filled by the Council of Governors (CoG).

The orders had been issued in an urgent application filed by CoG, which had argued that the job boycott called by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), is illegal because labour laws have been violated.

Employment and Labour Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa on Wednesday directed the Kilimani police chief to assist in having the KMPPDU and Knun officials presented in court to explain why they should not be committed to civil jail.

The judge gave the directions after CoG returned to court, arguing that the two unions have refused to comply with last week’s orders, though they had been duly notified.

In addition, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader, Raila Odinga, and his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart, Musalia Mudavadi, have called on the government to honour the 300 per cent salary increment stipulated in a 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed with the doctors.

They urged the government to convene a sitting with the medics and come up with a solution to end the stalemate. Speaking at kathwana in Tharakanithi County the two leaders further pointed out the sad and agonizing situation where innocent Kenyans are suffering and dying. They said the government must learn to honour its commitments.

At the same time the two said they are in an advanced stage to form an alliance which will form one political party to be christened- national super alliance. They also asked youths to take national identity card and register as voters to enable them take part in the 2017 general election.

Meanwhile, Busia Governor Sospeter Ojaamong, has defended the doctors strike action but declared that of nurses illegal, saying counties have met most of their demands.

Addressing reporters in his office, the Governor said the doctors entered into a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the National Government in 2013 before the health sector was fully devolved.

The Governor admitted that the National Government is trying to find an amicable solution to the problem.

Ojamong said that although the Doctors are justified in their industrial action, the move is drastic and they should have given dialogue a chance before downing their tools.

Elsewhere, Private hospitals in Tharaka Nithi County are well prepared to admit any number of patients from the public hospitals as the national strike enters day three. All public hospitals have been deserted in the county, with only casual staff being left.

A spot check by Kenya News Agency KNA revealed that all private hospitals in the region have admitted large numbers of patients from Chuka county referral hospital and neighbouring Meru County.

Addressing the press Wednesday, Franklin Ikunda, a doctor at Chogoria Mission hospital, said the hospital has enough personnel and facilities to cater for the rising number of patients transferred to the facility.

Dr Ikunda noted that they have been forced to refer kidney patients to neighbouring private hospitals with dialysis machines. A medic at a private hospital in Tharaka, who sought anonymity, said the facility is struggling with patients who cannot raise money for the treatment.


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