The Laikipia government has accused doctors who went on strike on Tuesday morning of frustrating the health sector and the operations of the two referral hospitals in Nanyuki and Nyahururu.
County Secretary Karanja Njora said their complaint about the county's failure to implement a collective bargaining agreement was untrue since 49 doctors were promoted this year and eight others recruited.
“The promotion of doctors and other staff working for the county government has been ongoing process. It should not be a reason for any of them to boycott work,” said Mr Njora.
But the doctors, through the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU), said the reason for the boycott was the government’s failure to respond to issues of placement of specialists in the right job groups.
The union also cited non-payment of arrears arising from delayed promotions.
Regarding this, Mr Njora noted that doctors in Laikipia are among the highest paid civil servants in the country, earning an entry salary of Sh236,000.
He said the highest paid doctor takes home Sh428,000.
“The 131 doctors working for the county account for 30 percent (Sh442 million per annum) of the health wage bill. In addition, 49 of the doctors were promoted in January and eight new ones employed," he said.
"Further, the government has this year alone sponsored 46 doctors to a senior management course."
Governor Ndiritu Muriithi recently complained about the county’s wage bill, which Mr Njora said stands at 56 per cent of the total budget of Sh2.6 billion.
The secretary said Sh1.6 billion of the bill goes to the health department.
“At the moment we do not have a doctor who is not confirmed. Promotions have been going on," Mr Njora explained.
"[There are two kinds of promotions]. Common cadre promotions are done by the county while competitive promotions are pegged on availability of vacancies and whether doctors meet the requirements."
A strike notice issued by KMPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga indicated the county government had failed to meet the union and implement key clauses in CBA.
But Mr Njora said the government held a meeting with the doctors last week, where it was agreed that they present data or documents to show Laikipia had not fulfilled their demands.
On operations, Mr Njora said, “Out-patient, in-patient wards and emergency services in the two hospitals, as well as the renal unit in Nanyuki, have been going without interruption."