Kenya doctors end strike after deal with government

Public hospitals last week began the process of sacking doctors and evicting them from the premises as the strike crippled public health services.

The strike was called off by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) after they signed a return-to-work formula with the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopha Mailu and Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya.

The signing of the deal now ends the push and shove that characterised the strike, leading to the incarceration of the union officials.

Kenyan government and the medics' union officials signed a return-to-work agreement on Tuesday evening in Nairobi.

More than 5,000 health workers calling for almost a 300 percent hike in pay went on strike in December, but it was not clear how much of their demands were accepted.

Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital have declined to resume duty until the management reinstates 12 sacked colleagues.

The parties have also agreed to withdraw all pending cases.

Oluga said the biggest achievement in the agreement is that doctors now will work just 40 hours a week and will be compensated for extra hours.

"I hope everyone now understands that health is a devolved function and therefore no one will be used to try to reverse the sector using industrial actions", said the chairman.

Now the labour court will oversee the implementation of the agreement in 60 days, Oluga said.

"This has been a painful issue for the country", said KMPDU secretary-general Ouma Oluga. "Kenyans have suffered. we can not fathom the extent of pain which Kenyans felt in the 100 days", said Kenya's health minister, Cleopa Mailu.

In the end, all we shall have in public hospitals are demotivated workers without much interest and dedication in their work.

President Uhuru Kenyatta last week threatened to fire the 5,000 doctors if they didn't return to work, but doctors defied him.

Appellate judges issued the directive on Tuesday.

The new agreement, signed by officials of the Ministry of Health, Council of Governors, and the doctors' union, will increase doctors' allowances and implement a promotion plan while protecting all striking doctors from penalization.

  • Joanne Flowers