- This is after the 21-day strike notice they issued on November 14 expired on Monday.
- Dr Fredrick Oluga, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) general secretary, on Monday told NTV that union members were keeping off hospitals because the government had dishonoured the CBA for three years.
Nairobi. Health workers have made good on their threat to boycott work to push the government to implement a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they signed in June 2013.
This is after the 21-day strike notice they issued on November 14 expired on Monday.
Dr Fredrick Oluga, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) general secretary, on Monday told NTV that union members were keeping off hospitals because the government had dishonoured the CBA for three years.
He and other KMPDU officials officially launched the nationwide strike at the Public Service Club in Nairobi.
Wearing lab coats, masks and theatre caps, the medics arrived armed with empty sacks that they said they hoped would be filled with their arrears like those of Josephine Kabura, who reportedly carried National Youth Service loot in bags.
“Tunataka tulipwe kama tender (we want to to be paid like tender (people)),” they chanted, ridiculing the record time some tenderpreneurs implicated in mega graft, including the NYS scam, were paid.
“We have nothing else to lose, nothing will come between us and the CBA,” Dr Oluga, who has accused the government of losing billions to corruption and failing the agreement, told members.
Their strike is in defiance of a temporary order by the Employment and Labour Relations Court on Friday stopping industrial action, and calls by Health CS Cleopa Mailu and the Council of Governors to work as talks continue.
1: 16,000 RATIO
The medics are pushing for a review of job groups, promotions, deployment and transfer of medical officers, as well as remuneration, according to the inked CBA.
In particular, the document addresses understaffing, with the ministry asked to hire at least 1,200 doctors yearly over the next four years to reduce the doctor-patient ratio.
There is one doctor for at least 16,000 Kenyans.
Coast region union deputy chairman Gitau Kagona urged members not to report to work, accusing counties and the Health ministry of failing to show commitment to improving the working conditions of health staff. Dr Kagona said KMPDU has been pushing stakeholders, including the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, to implement the CBA but their efforts have failed to bear fruit.
“We cannot continue to work in an environment which does not support growth of staff. We will support this strike because we want to demand our rights and we will not relent until we are heard,” Dr Kagona said.
He said the poor patient-doctor ratio was a big issue affecting most public health facilities in Kenya.
“We have a big shortage of doctors yet our counties are sending doctors away, saying they cannot hire more doctors. We cannot have good service delivery in hospitals because of this challenge,” he added.
The strike by the nearly 5,000 doctors, nurses, pharmacists, dentists and interns in those groups is likely to affect services at over 2,700 public health facilities — including Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, where most Kenyans seek emergency medical care.