Nairobi News


Mediation talks fail as doctors reject government offer, strike continues

Efforts to broker a return-to-work agreement between the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and government officials hit a deadlock on Tuesday, March 19 intensifying the ongoing healthcare crisis in the country.

The collapse of negotiations came as a blow to hopes of resolving the week-long strike.

The crucial talks failed as KMPDU officials accused the government of adopting a casual approach to the negotiations, alleging the substitution of senior ministry officials with legal representatives.

KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atellah, leading his union’s delegation, staged a walkout from the meeting in protest.

“We were supposed to meet Principal Secretaries from the Ministry of Health and Labour to iron out our issues, but what we are seeing are lawyers sent to us as if we are in a court of law,” remarked Dr Atellah.

Also read: KMPDU boss Davji Atellah revists horrific attack

Central to KMPDU’s grievances is the alleged unilateral decision by the government to slash the monthly stipend of medical intern officers by a staggering 91 per cent, as disclosed in a letter from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha.

Dr Atellah condemned the move as a breach of the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and reiterated the union’s firm rejection of the proposed reductions.

“They are even worsening the situation by deducting the remuneration of medical interns. This is in breach of the 2017 CBA agreement. We were not invited to the talks yet we are the main stakeholders. We reject it,” Dr. Atellah said.

KUCO Chairman Peter Wachira minced no words in expressing the unions’ collective frustration, decrying the government’s perceived lack of seriousness in addressing their grievances.

“We have said enough is enough, this government is not serious about listening to our grievances.”

The impact of the strike has hit key medical institutions, with Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital suspending patient admissions and Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) scaling down elective theatre services.