Striking city doctors stay away from hospitals despite partial pay
Striking doctors in Nairobi County have not resumed work though City Hall has paid part of their unpaid salaries in a bid to end the two-week stalemate.
County officials had announced on Friday that they would give out vouchers to 36 doctors for one-month salaries and then clear the rest of the arrears when the medics are paid their September salaries.
The county also committed to begin releasing promotion letters to 128 doctors in the next 21 days.
NO APPOINTMENT LETTERS
Executive Health Executive Bernard Muia on Monday said the doctors had not been paid for six months because they did not have appointment letters.
“Those who have gone without salaries are doctors who had not been given official appointment letters but now have been permanently employed, and included in the September payroll,” said Dr Muia.
He added that the arrears for the five months will be paid in full with the doctors’ September salaries and urged the doctors to call off their strike and resume work.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union Nairobi branch Secretary-General Thuranira Kaugiria said the medics only heard about the vouchers in the media and that they had not received their pay.
Dr Kaugiria said the health workers were still at home because they have no money to pay for their transport to work.
He claimed county officials were communicating with them through the media and the Health ministry and were not talking to them directly.
“I have received calls from Afya House by ‘big people’ putting pressure on us to resume work instead of the county involving us,” he said.
Regarding promotions, Dr Muia said the process had begun and the first 86 doctors would benefit.
The file of the remaining 36 will be evaluated and recommendations made.
The industrial action, in its third week, had been suspended by the Employment and Labour Relations Court on September 16.
“We are not defying the court order, we just don’t have fare to commute to work or food to eat in our houses. Are we going to walk?” Dr Kaugiria asked.
That notwithstanding, Dr Muia said the medical officers must report to work, failing which they would be disciplined.
He added that the doctors’ grievances had been addressed and that they had signed a return-to-work formula through their union.
“We have done our part and finalised their demands and acknowledged the return-to-work formula, which we have signed,” said Dr Muia.
Conversely, Dr Kaugiria has denied that they signed any return-to-work agreement, saying that one executive officer took the letter on a bare-minimum agreement, edited it and appended his signature.
The doctors are complaining about delayed salaries, promotions and the county’s alleged failure to remit statutory deductions such as the NHIF and NSSF fees in the past eight months.