Doctors can look for ‘better paying jobs’ – Treasury CS Henry Rotich

Henry Rotich
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich

The government has said that it cannot afford the pay rise demand by the doctors in accordance with the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Appearing on Citizen TV’s Cheche Show on Wednesday, January 25, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, said that the government can only afford a 40 per cent pay hike for the striking doctors.

Rotich termed the perks as reasonable further indicating that doctors have the option of looking for alternative employment with higher pay as any offer higher than what is currently on the table would stretch state coffers.

This comes accusation and counter accusations between the government and the doctors with each faction remaining non-committal on the way forward.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials now risk a one month jail term over contempt of court after they failed to end their strike as directed by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

The officials who have since moved to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling by Justice Hellen Wasilwa who gave them a two-week window to allow return-to-work talks with the government on their demands failure to which they will be arrested and jailed for one month.

In an application filed at the court on Tuesday, the union indicated that they require more time to engage with the government and the Council of Governors to resolve the stalemate that has crippled services in public hospitals for over 51 days.

The medics accused the government and the Council of Governors of using their advantage to arm-twist and frustrate the negotiations between the parties.

The doctors have also accused the government together with the Council of Governors of using their advantage to arm twist and frustrate the negotiations between the parties.

This comes just a day after the doctors union officials failed to reach a deal with the Ministry of Health even after a 5-hour closed door meeting at Afya House on Tuesday.

Speaking after the meeting, Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr Cleopa Mailu accused the union officials of lack of commitment to negotiate with the government to end the strike that enters its 51st day Wednesday.

Mailu, however, said they are ready to increase the 40% pay rise offer given to the doctors although the doctors’ union officials insist the strike will not be called off until the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement is implemented.

If implemented, the 2013 CBA would see the lowest paid doctor earn a salary of over Ksh 300,000 and the highest paid would earn slightly under Ksh 1 million per month.

The doctors’ strike followed after a three-year industrial dispute concerning the disputed CBA signed on June 27, 2013 and was to be effected on July 1, 2013.

KMPDU further accuses the government side of failing to show any good will in the negotiation process but instead threatening them with sacking and law suits.

Early Tuesday, doctors led by KMPDU chairperson, Samuel Oroko, and Secretary General, Ouma Oluga, said they are ready to go to jail if that is the only way to achieve reforms in the health sector.

The government’s offer remains at a 40 per cent pay increment with an agreement to raise the entry level grade for the public service for doctors to Job Group “M” from Job Group “L”, a grade it terms as higher than the normal entry level for other public servants and recognises doctors’ professional training.

The government has also offered to raise the Enhanced Emergency Call allowance to Ksh 66,000 from the current Ksh 30,000 for Job Group L; Ksh 72,000 from Ksh 30,000 for Job Groups M-P; and Ksh 80,000 from Ksh 30,000 for Job Groups Q and above.

A new Doctors’ risk allowance was on offer at a flat rate of Ksh 10,000 per month.

“The sum total of the government’s offer means that the minimum gross salary for doctors will increase to Ksh 196,989 from the current Ksh 140,244 at full implementation at the current entry Job Group L,” read the government’s statement in part.

“The total impact of the government offer on the exchequer will be an additional expenditure of Ksh4 billion annually – shared among the nation’s 5,000 doctors.”

The government had, however, termed the CBA illegal, saying it was not registered and could therefore to be implemented.

Additional details by Dzuya Walters

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