Kenyan doctors chant slogans to demand fulfilment of a 2013 agreement between their union and the government that would raise their pay and improve working conditions outside the employment and labour relations courts in Nairobi

As an aftermath of the a 10-week strike, seven Kenyan national doctors’ union (KMPDU) officials have been jailed with a sentenced to serve one month in a state prison. The strike started on 5 December 2016, over the government’s failure to implement the pay package that conformed to the agreement that was signed by the unions and the government in 2013.

The 2013 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), promised to increase the pay by 300%, and increase research funds, drugs and equipment in public hospitals. The agreement was never implemented which caused the strike.

The Union’s Stand And Ultimatum

President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the medics to return to work, stating how dozens of people had died due to the long strike because of lack of treatment. The President also met representatives of the doctors’ union and made an offer to raise the health workers’ wages by at least $560 (£450), in an attempt to end the strike.

The union responded to the Ministry of Health’s proposal by rejecting the offer and stating that:

“[it] fails to capture the salary structure that was agreed collectively between us and the government”.

 

The union also officially announced their decision via a tweet:

The doctors were then given an ultimatum to report to work or face legal disciplinary action.

High Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa jailed seven KMPDU officials for a month over the 10 week long strike which caused problems for the patients in the hospital and numerous deaths. She reasoned that the doctors jailed ignored an earlier court order to end the strike.

Wasilwa said:

“This court declines to review its order sentencing the applicants to one month jail term … you can now start serving your sentences, those are the orders of the court,”

The union retorted with a couple of tweets:

Health Crisis

A spokesman, Alex Thuranira Kuagiri, said that Kenya is currently facing a health crisis, as about 2,300 doctors have shifted to private practice from the public sector in the last three years.

He further said, “This is because of poor salaries, poor working conditions, no career progression, no promotions,”

Currently there is only one doctor for every 1,700 patients, and the government committed to hiring 1,200 doctors every year. With this commitment, Kenya will only reach the World Health Organisation’s recommendations of one doctor for every 1,000 patients in five years.

The government announced it would be hiring doctors, from two countries, India and Cuba.

“Enough is enough. We cannot continue losing doctors. It is up to us to fight for a better healthcare, for our parents, for our children and for the rest of Kenyans or any visitor who will come here.” said Kuagiri.

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