Seven counties have withheld the December salaries of more than 300 striking doctors, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has disclosed.
Union officials named Mombasa, Bomet, Kwale, Siaya, Nakuru, Nairobi and another county that they did not disclose as among those still holding onto the doctors’ pay.
The union, however, said 40 counties had so far paid doctors, who are taking part in a nationwide strike in a bid to force the government to implement a collective bargaining agreement that they signed with the Ministry of Health in 2013.
But KMPDU Secretary-General Ouma Oluga and his chairman Samuel Oroko said the respective counties must pay the striking doctors even if they are not reporting to work.
“In the past six months, doctors have not been earning salaries in various counties, so we are not perturbed,” said Dr Oluga in Mombasa on Saturday, when he met more than 100 doctors from seven Coast counties.
“Counties have also been delaying salaries, so let them keep the salaries for us. But they will pay all of it.”
Speaking at the Mbaraki Sports Club, the unionists urged doctors in Lamu, Kilifi, Tana River, Kwale, Mombasa and Taita-Taveta counties to continue their industrial action.
Mombasa health executive Mohamed Abdi did not respond to text messages from the Nation seeking comment.
His Kwale counterpart Kishindo Mwaleso said striking doctors did not work in December and so they will not be paid.
“We got a circular from the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors to only pay health workers who worked in December,” said Dr Mwaleso. “You are paid when you work.”
Dr Mwaleso, however, said the county government had paid other health workers. He said 40 doctors from the county had not been paid.
Dr Oroko claimed that there were cartels in the private-sector medical insurance industry who are ruining healthcare services.
“The cartels dictate which facility a patient is going to be seen [at],” said. “They dictate which doctor will see a given patient.
“Since when did non-doctors decide which doctor to see which patient? Since when did non-doctors decide which hospital their client is supposed to go [to]?”
Dr Oroko said some doctors are denied opportunities for study leave, forcing them to quit public service.