The Government Tuesday issued an ultimatum to doctors who have been striking for the last three months to return to work or face severe consequences.
In a joint statement read by Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya in the presence of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the rest of the Governors, the doctors were ordered to return to work immediately.
The Government also withdrew an offer it had made to the doctor to backdate allowances to July 2016 out of goodwill, but which the striking doctors had repudiated.
Governors also asked President Kenyatta to issue an executive order taking away the role of registering doctors from their union back to the Government.
In the statement, the Government made it clear that strenuous efforts had been made to reach an amicable solution with the doctors but they have remained intransigent.
The doctors rejected a 50 percent salary increment and an additional Sh600 million, as backdated allowances, that was offered as a sign of goodwill. This offers would have pushed the doctors annual wage bill to an excess of Sh14.5 billion.
But doctors rejected the offer, and returned to their demand for a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be signed. Governors noted that the 2013 document referred to by doctors is obsolete, and that a new CBA could only be agreed in consultation with individual counties and the SRC.
“It is now time for the die to fall as they may; and for each individual doctor, pharmacists and dentists within the public service to negotiate with his/her particular employer, be it the national government in the case of those working in national facilities, or in the particular county government,” said the statement.
The Government said doctors who continued being on duty will receive the new allowances. Those who went on strike but want to resume work should do so immediately.
All postgraduate medical students (registrars) who are sponsored by the Government are to report to their respective Duty Stations with immediate effect.
Medical Interns who are currently on internship are directed to report back to their respective internship centers with immediate effect, in order to complete their internship and facilitate registration by the Board.
The statement was read shortly after President Kenyatta launched a passionate and powerful address on the strike, saying that it was time for doctors to uphold their oath to protect life, and to uphold the principle of fairness.
President Kenyatta said his patience, and that of governors, with the striking doctors has run out because they were taking Kenyans for a ride.
The President said the Government had offered the doctors pay that was even higher that earned by doctors in private practice.
The Head of State said the doctors were trying to blackmail the Government by denying their services to the poor while serving the well to do.
“We need clarity about the consequences of their strike: the better off still have access to a doctor’s care, while poorer Kenyans must do without,” said the President when he officially opened the 4th Annual Devolution Conference.
“We have offered these doctors more money than those working in private hospitals. And all that money just for working for a few hours in public hospitals before they rush to their private practices. They should not take us for fools,” said the President.
The President expressed his gratitude to the Clinical Officers and Nurses who have kept hospitals running and attended to patients for all the time doctors absconded from work.