The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has threatened to mobilise its members to go on strike, as they accused the government of frustrating negotiations on their collective bargaining agreement (CBA).
The union leaders expressed their displeasure with the manner the Council of Governors (CoG), and the Health and Labour ministries were handling the negotiations.
Chairman Peterson Wachira and Secretary-General George Gibore accused the government of failing to honour the binding terms of a return-to-work deal it struck with the clinical officers on October 5, 2017. The formula required the two parties to sign, within 60 days, a recognition agreement in accordance with the existing labour laws before embarking on CBA talks.
“We have exhausted all the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms as provided by the law. We are now left with no option but industrial action,” said Mr Gibore.
He said the negotiations that started in December 2017 with a timeline of up to January 31, 2018 were dragged to April 2018, when the government walked out of the negotiations, leading to their collapse.
The clinical officers, through their union, have been demanding a raise in their risk allowance from Sh3,000 to Sh30,000 and call allowance from Sh10,000 to Sh70,000.
They also want health workers’ allowances increased from Sh20,000 to Sh30,000.
Further, they are asking the government to hire an additional 4,700 officers and revamp their comprehensive medical cover.
The parties, according to the officials, had agreed on about 90 per cent of the CBA before the negotiations collapsed.
The union later wrote to the Labour Cabinet secretary, who appointed a conciliator, but the government side refused to honour summons, leading to failure of conciliation, he added.
"There is deliberate collusion between government officials and employers to frustrate the CBA negotiations," added Mr Wachira.
He said their attempts to engage the National Assembly and Senate health committees to settle the matter have hit a dead end. The officials said they will hold an Advisory Council meeting on February 16 and decide on the next course of action.
"We have done several petitions to both employers, with the latest held on January 28, imploring them to reconstitute the negotiations but it’s now clear that they are not willing to act" said Mr Gibore.
Should it come to pass, the strike will be the latest in a series that have denied sick Kenyans services in public hospitals.
In Nakuru County, a nurses’ strike is expected to kick off on February 18 if the county will not have responded to their CBA demands.