A resolute government on Wednesday withdrew an earlier indication that it was willing to promote doctors one job group higher, but offered them all the pay perks contained in their contested 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In an advertisement, the Ministry of Health indicates that the lowest job group — for interns — remains L, while it had earlier agreed to move them to M.
It also wants doctors who abscond duty evicted from government premises, and insists, despite doctors’ calls on Wednesday for one more chance at the negotiating table, that there would be no further talks with medics unless they return to work.
In the meantime, the government has recalled all postgraduate medical students, who are expected to take up positions in the counties.
In the government offer, the senior-most doctors will be in job group T, earning a maximum salary of Sh592,000. Interns will earn a minimum of Sh196,000 and a maximum of Sh206,000.
Doctors have been fighting for a minimum salary of Sh325,000 for interns and a starting salary of Sh852,000 for the highest cadres.
The proposed additional Sh10,000 risk allowance has been removed. Also, the extraneous allowance in the new deal is Sh30,000 across all the eight job groups, which differs from the 2013 CBA, which had proposed that medical specialists in job groups S and T receive a Sh40,000 extraneous allowance.
The new offer and tough talk from the government came as doctors termed the decision by President Kenyatta to stop all pay talks with them as “unfortunate” and “shocking.”
They also asked what could have happened in the short period between a court hearing in Nairobi Tuesday morning that raised hopes of a deal, and the announcement in Naivasha later in the afternoon that the government would no longer engage them in talks.
Through their lawyer, Mr Philip Murgor, the medics said they had all along believed they had reached an agreement with the mediation team after they agreed to take a 40 per cent pay increase on Monday evening, only to realise it would not be captured in a new CBA.
“There was joy in court after the hearing because we believed we had ended the stalemate,” said Mr Murgor on the phone yesterday. “I was actually shocked by the threats to deregister the doctors’ union and recall of the previous offer.”
The battle for the President’s ear, however, had started earlier, on Monday evening. The clergy mediating the dispute wanted to table their report to State House after expiry of their mandate, and they brought in lawyers to write it for them.
The doctors’ union officials, however, differed with the final report, seen by the Nation, as it, among other things, asked the President to forgive them for disobeying him.
“Having met with the doctors,” the report to the President read, “we can now say that they have expressed their remorse and they humbly request, Sir, for forgiveness.”
It was signed by John Cardinal Njue (Catholic), Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit (ACK), Rev Julius Mwamba (PCEA), Sheikh Adan Wachu (Supkem), Bishop John Warari (EAK), and Nitin Malde (Hindu Council of Kenya).
The doctors, however, said they had never, in their negotiations, asked the clergy to beg for forgiveness of the President on their behalf, and refused to accompany the preachers to State House as earlier planned. They believe the clergy went ahead to present the contested report to the President.
They also said they were shocked to learn, at the Court of Appeal Tuesday morning, that the clergy had included a paragraph to the effect that they would call of the strike.
The paragraph, towards the end of the report to the court, read: “We have further been informed this morning that the KMPDU is ready to enter into a return-to-work formula and the recognition agreement pending the initialisation of the CBA.”
But doctors said they had not agreed or indicated to anyone that they would call off the strike before signing the CBA as they feared the government might not honour it. When they raised this concern, lawyers for the clergy cancelled the paragraph with a pen before submitting it to the court.