Why Doctors are on Strike in Kenya - Real Reasons

Why Doctors are on Strike in Kenya - Real Reasons

The doctors in Kenya, represented by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) have been on a prolonged strike due to the government's failure to address their key demands and fulfil a CBA that was signed in 2017.  Most government hospitals are facing a health crisis as the strike continues.

The doctors have expressed their frustration with the government's failure to engage in meaningful negotiations to resolve the ongoing strike. They have accused the government of misusing court orders to coerce the union into suspending the strike, despite the government being in contempt of court orders.

Reasons for the Doctors' Strike in Kenya

The doctors say they are on strike because of the following demands that the government needs to meet;

  • 1. Settling outstanding 7-year basic salary arrears owed to doctors.
  • 2. Expediting the promotion of all doctors who are due for promotions.
  • 3. Recruiting more doctors to alleviate the chronic understaffing crisis in national and county health facilities.
  • 4. Providing comprehensive medical cover for all doctors to ensure their well-being and that of their families.
  • 5. Addressing the perennial issue of salary delays.
  • 6. Converting all doctors on discriminatory contracts to Permanent and Pensionable terms to afford persons of job security, decent and dignified work.
  • 7. Reinstating the doctors who were illegally dismissed in Kirinyaga County.
  • 8. Releasing doctors for specialized training to enhance their skills and improve the quality of healthcare services.
  • 9. Posting Medical interns immediately as enshrined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
  • 10. Paying post-graduate doctors who are working for free in various hospitals.
  • 11. Performing all actions towards continuous progressive labor relations as defined under the principles of collective bargaining.

Government response to doctors' strike

On its part, the government through the Ministry of Labour Cabinet Secretary Florence Bore has responded with the statement below;

The ongoing industrial action in the health sector is a matter of serious concern to the Government of Kenya and all well-meaning Kenyans who understand the special services rendered by workers in the sector. The withdrawal of their labour is unfortunate and one we should not allow to persist any further.

I wish to firmly state that industrial relations framework in this country is founded on certain key principles of Social Dialogue, Tripartite Relations, Social Equity, Fairness, justice and Rule of Law. Both Employers and Workers have rights and obligations, which are recognized in the Constitution of Kenya, 2010 and Labour laws and must be respected. The Ministry of Labour, being the Government Agency with the legal mandate to promote peace and harmony, is committed to assist the parties resolve the outstanding differences between them.

I wish to remind the Unions, that is Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists Dentists Union (KMPPDU), Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) and Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) that whereas the framework to exercise Freedom of Association and the Right to industrial action is provided for in the Constitution under Article 41, the right to strike is not absolute and is limited by the Constitution under Article 24 to the extent defined by law. The Labour Relations Act, 2007 establishes grounds when strikes and lock outs may be protected in Part X.

The Employment and Labour Relations Court has given interim orders and parties must obey the orders. The Head of Public Service has taken action in complying with the orders and so must everyone else.

The Court also directed the Conciliation Committee to continue with its work to assist parties in finding minimum safety service during industrial action. Parties should co-operate and act in good faith to finding a settlement to these issues. The resolution of this dispute and a lasting solution can only be found through Social Dialogue and the sooner parties realize this the better.

Parties must adhere to the law and give dialogue a chance. The Labour Relations Act, of 2007 provides that where parties have a difference, they may subject this through a dispute resolution mechanism. The doctors union must therefore suspend the strike and come to the table to negotiate with the employers, that is, the Ministry of Health and the 47 County Governments. The Union needs to direct its members to get back to work, to pave way for meaningful negotiations to take place to find a lasting resolution.

Parties must sit and dialogue in good faith. As a Ministry, our role is facilitative to promote social dialogue and respect for the Rule of Law. We stand firm to defend parties' right to freedom of association and expression which is enshrined in the Constitution but also the country's commitment under international instruments which Kenya has signed and is party to.

In view of the above, it is our position that Industrial peace and harmony must be maintained at all times for the well-being of everyone, economic progress, and national development of this country, regardless of one's position.

We must all work together to accelerate the government's efforts to restore normalcy in the operations of the health sector. This matter has received attention at the highest level, and we should have faith in each other to resolve the matter once and for all. Once more I appeal to the doctors, clinical officers, and laboratory technicians to give Dialogue a Chance.

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