Specialist doctors who had been offering services at Kenyatta National Hospital and University of Nairobi Medical School lecturers have joined the strike as the doctors’ union continues to defy calls to return to work.
The 290 practitioners, usually referred to as consultants, on Thursday suspended the emergency services they were offering at KNH as the national job boycott entered its fourth day.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPPDU) also threatened to shut down private and mission hospitals, which are still operating.
READY TO RESIGN
But Dr Abdi Mohammed, chairman of the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals, told Nation.co.ke that their hospitals may not close, but privately run clinics would close just for a day on December 13, when the union will appear in court.
Speaking to journalists at the KNH grounds, KMPPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga said striking doctors were ready to resign since they were aware that the government was plotting to axe them.
“We are not interested in the return to work formula”, Dr Oluga said, adding that “the only thing that will get us back to work will be the implemented [collective bargaining agreement] and the three years arrears”
Doctors are demanding, among many other things, a nearly 130 per cent salary raise for the lowest-cadre members, from a maximum of Sh149,880 to Sh342,770.
For the highest job cadre — Group T — the union wants an increase from a maximum of Sh538,980 to Sh946,000, which is a 75 percent rise.
The doctors dismissed the arrest warrants issued on Wednesday by Labour Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa, saying they had neither seen the orders nor the arrest warrants.
Dr Oluga accused the government of being inhumane and trying to divert public attention and said the strike will only end after the 2013 collective bargaining agreement is implemented.
He acknowledged that the strike has caused great distress among the public but insisted that it represents “a greater cause and the demand for a change in healthcare”.
Meanwhile, the Union of Kenya Civil Servants has given the government a 24-hour ultimatum to resolve the health crisis or it would issue a strike notice on December 12.
The union's Secretary-General Tom Odege on Thursday said civil servants working in health could not continue offering their services because the environment is not conducive.
The union has 70,000 members, among them nurses and doctors.
Mr Odege called on the government and the KMPPDU to drop their hard-line positions and reach a consensus so as to end the stalemate as soon as possible.
"There is no way civil servants will continue to work when some of its members cannot work because of [an] unconducive environment," he said.
The government, he said, should provide employment opportunities to workers in refugee camps once they are closed next year.