Sunday, May 26, 2024

Doctors’ Strike: Why doctors are refusing to go back to work

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The ongoing doctors’ strike is not about to end. Yesterday, doctors announced that they will not be returning to work despite the claim by the government that Sh. 2.4 billion had been released for the placement of interns.

The doctors termed the offer by the government as spiteful. According to Davji Atellah, the secretary-general of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), the Sh. 2.4 billion that the government claims to have released for intern doctors was meant for all the medical interns.

“This was impunity of the highest order, you cannot purport to have released Sh. 2.4 billion for the intern doctors yet you have reduced their salaries by 91 per cent. This is utter contempt. We will not entertain this,” said Dr Atellah.

He added that the government is reducing the internship pay for the junior doctors by 91 per cent.

“For them to be paid as per the Salaries and Renumeration Commission (SRC), it means they have gone against the 2017 court order which ordered the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). They are in contempt. Ideally, the budget to cover all medical interns was Sh. 4.8 billion and they have reduced the salaries by half,” said Dr. Atellah.

“There is a need to distinguish these junior doctors from other interns in the public service. Besides working beyond the legal limit of work hours, they endure exposure to life-threatening occupational risks.”

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A circular effective March 13 by the SRC states that the medical interns be paid between Sh. 35,000 and Sh. 70,000. However, according to the KMPDU, they ought to be paid a net salary of about Sh. 150,000.

The circular further states that medical officer, pharmacist and dental officer interns should be paid between Sh. 47,000 and Sh. 70,000. Nursing officer and clinical officer interns should be paid between Sh. 35,000 and Sh. 50,000.

The KMPDU, which represents more than 7,000 members, went on strike on March 15 to demand payment of their salary arrears and the immediate hiring of trainee doctors, among other grievances.

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