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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Striking Kenyan doctors offered pay rise after talks with President

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government has offered a more than 550 U.S. dollars salary increase for the lowest paid doctors, which will raise their salaries to some 1,970 dollars per month, in a bid to end their month-long strike.

It comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday held a day-long meeting with representatives of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union in the coastal city of Mombasa.

"The total impact of the government offer on the exchequer will be an additional expenditure of 40 million U.S. dollars annually—shared among the nation’s 5,000 doctors," Kenyatta said in a statement issued after the meeting.

The government also offered to increase enhanced emergency call allowance for doctors by more than 100 percent.

"The sum total of the government’s offer means that the minimum gross salary for doctors will increase to 1,970 from the current 1,400 dollars...," the statement said.

The doctors are demanding a 300 percent salary increase as agreed in a collective bargaining agreement signed with the government in 2013.

They say the lowest paid doctor should earn 3,450 dollars per month while the highest 9,450 dollars.

The government last month offered a 500 dollar increase for the lowest paid doctors but the union rejected it and walked out of talks.

Kenyatta said the latest government offer would bring the remuneration of doctors in line with the labour market.

"Government believes that this is a responsible offer in the context of its obligations to properly manage the country’s finances, as well as taking into cognizance the critical role played by doctors in securing a nation’s health," the statement said.

The government also reaffirmed its commitment to ensure equity in the nationwide distribution of doctors, continuous training, and a standard framework of employment across counties, including mechanisms for transfer of doctors and promotions.

During the meeting, the doctors’ representatives committed to a quicker resolution of the strike, saying they will consult with their wider membership before responding to the government offer on Friday.

The union had accused the government of failing to show good will in the negotiation process and threatened lawsuits.

The doctors are also demanding the hiring of more medics and the improvement of working conditions in hospitals.

They have argued that they have been forced to work for long hours due to the doctor-to-patient ratio in the country that they say stands at 1:16,000.

The strike has paralyzed operations in public hospitals, leaving at least 20 patients dead.
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EARLIER REPORT:

Kenyan leader in talks with striking doctors over salary standoff

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is holding a crisis meeting with representatives of striking doctors on Wednesday in a bid to end their month-long industrial action, which has paralyzed health services across the country.

The meeting is being held in the coastal city of Mombasa, where Kenyatta is on a working visit. It is being attended by officials from the Salaries and Remunerations Commission and other senior government officials.

Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Ouma Oluga, confirmed the talks but maintained that the strike would only be called off after "an agreeable implementation matrix for the collective bargaining agreement (CBA)" was offered.

Early last month, over 5,000 public sector doctors downed their tools demanding a 300 percent pay hike based on the disputed CBA signed three years ago with the government.

The doctors say the lowest paid doctor should earn 3,450 U.S. dollars per month while the highest 9,450 dollars.

The government last month offered a 500 dollar increase for the lowest paid doctors, which would raise their salaries to around 1,760 dollars but the union rejected it and walked out of talks.

The doctors accuse the government of failing to show good will in the negotiation process but instead threatening them with law suits.

The strike has paralyzed operations in public hospitals, leaving at least 20 patients dead so far.

They doctors also demand the hiring of more medics and the improvement of working conditions in hospitals.

They claim that they have been forced to work for long hours due to the doctor-to-patient ratio that they say currently stands at 1:16,000.

Under Kenya’s constitution, health functions are the role of county governments but the union has argued that the transfer of the services to counties should be carried out in phases.

           

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