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End of doctors’ strike could be imminent

The end of the doctors’ strike could be imminent following talks between the government and the medical practitioners’ union in Nairobi on Tuesday.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu on Tuesday held a closed door meeting with four members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union for more than six hours.

Their main agenda, according to a doctor privy to the ongoing discussions, was the contentious 2013 collective bargaining agreement. It is this CBA that will provide a salary increase as well as address the doctors’ working conditions, internship, training and other labour relations.

The government had maintained it would not register or implement the CBA because it was not within the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s guidelines for public servants.

Dr Mailu, who was with two other officials from the ministry, had said he would speak to the media after the talks. The talks came to an end at around 6pm and are expected to resume on Wednesday. Neither Dr Mailu nor the doctors’ leaders spoke to the Press afterward.

An insider intimated that by 4pm on Tuesday, the talks had addressed at least two of the nine articles in the CBA. The article on remuneration is likely to be handled on Wednesday.

NOT CLEAR

It is not, however, clear how long these discussions will last but the doctors are glad that finally the negotiations have been channeled to the CBA and not the government’s offers.

The news of the meeting at Southern Mayfair in Nairobi was welcomed by opposition senators Hassan Omar Hassan (Mombasa) and Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, (Makueni). “We are encouraged by the positive step taken by the Cabinet secretary (Health) to convene and commence formal and direct negotiations with representatives of the doctors’ union,” read their statement.

The Council of Governors will meet again on Thursday to develop a new strategy on the doctors’ strike.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae, who also chairs the council’s committee on human resource and manpower, on Tuesday said they were determined to ensure the boycott ends soon to avert more suffering by patients.

On Monday, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Kenya Jackson ole Sapit called on doctors to call off their strike to save the country from more deaths and agony.

The Democratic Party has also called for speedy dialogue between the two parties.

“We urge doctors to sit down with the government and negotiate to solve the problems,” said the party’s secretary-general Jacob Haji on Monday.

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