Doctors strike over delayed pay, ‘mistreatment’, no promotions

Doctors protest outside the Nairobi county offices yesterday, demanding to be paid seven months’ salary arrears / JACK OWUOR
Doctors protest outside the Nairobi county offices yesterday, demanding to be paid seven months’ salary arrears / JACK OWUOR

Operations at Nairobi county health facilities have been paralysed after more than 200 doctors walked off the job yesterday, citing mistreatment, unpaid salaries and delayed promotions.

This medics’ strike follows one by nurses, who have not been working for 17 days.

The doctors say they have not been paid for the 100 days they were on strike and claimed that some of them have not received salaries since December.

“We are protesting against mistreatment. Some of us have not been paid for nine months, others five and some just received last month’s salary two days ago,” Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union Nairobi branch secretary Thuranira Kaugiria said.

No pay for 100 days’ strike

But speaking to the Star yesterday, county secretary Robert Ayisi said doctors have not and will not be paid for the 100 days they did not work.

“We don’t have money to pay them for the 100 days. The money we received from the national government was for allowance, not salaries,” he said.

In April, Governor Evans Kidero said the county will not pay doctors for the three months they boycotted work from December 5 to March 14.

Paying them would “amount to donation, which the county did not budget for”, he said.

“We cannot and will not pay them. That has been and is our stand. We only pay our workers for the days they work,” the governor said.

Yesterday, Health executive Bernard Muia said the county has a cash flow problem and some doctors and county workers have not received their salaries.

“We acknowledge there’s a salary problem, but it is not unique to doctors. That is why we are pleading with them to sit with us [to discuss issues and find solutions],” he said.

‘We are working on your demands’

Muia added that the county is working on promoting the medics, but asked for more time to confirm the promotions as it is a lengthy process.

Thuranira said deserving doctors have not been promoted, eight months after the union signed a deal with the county government.

“They have not actualised anything since we signed an agreement in November last year. Our correspondence with the governor and county secretary have yielded no fruit. So we are going to protest every day until our grievances are addressed,” he said.

The county doctors had in October called off their five-week long strike before they joined the nationwide industrial action in December.

They cited delayed salaries, promotions and failure by the county to submit deductions to statutory organisations.

They also called for the implementation of the CBA reached on June 27, 2013.

But Thuranira said the return-to-work agreement signed to end the strike was not fully fulfilled. That’s why they are on strike again.

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