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Kenyan president jabs striking medics: 'This is blackmail'

Kenyan president jabs striking medics: 'This is blackmail'

Kenya

Even as the Kenyan government continues negotiations with striking medics over an industrial action that started last December, the President does not seem happy about the posture of the medics who are pushing for better conditions of service.

President Uhuru has accused the doctors of employing ‘blackmail’ in talks which were being brokered by the Religious Council of Kenya.

According to him, whiles he was committed to a fair resolution to the impasse, it turned out that the doctors were being unfair because they continued in the private medical practice whiles deserting the public health facilities.

It seems to me that it will be wise for them to be guided by patience an practicality and I need to say here quite clearly, that if this round that they are now engaged with, with our religious leaders fails, we will be in a bit of a problem with them.

‘‘Fairness to you as doctors cannot come at the expense of fairness to other Kenyans. Your duty is to serve all, to protect and to care for all.

‘‘It seems to me that it will be wise for them to be guided by patience an practicality and I need to say here quite clearly, that if this round that they are now engaged with, with our religious leaders fails, we will be in a bit of a problem with them.’‘

Adding, ‘‘And only for working two hours a day in a government hospital and then they run to do private practice in their clinics. This is blackmail and we are not going to entertain it.’‘ Kenyatta was speaking on Tuesday at a devolution conference in the country.

A court recently jailed seven leaders of the doctors union for disobeying a court order by refusing to call off a strike. They were released after a day in jail in order to allow them to return to the negotiation table.

The medics recently rejected a 40% pay rise offer from the government, demanding the full implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement. Public sector medics have been on strike since early December 2016.

The union, which has about 5,000 members, wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013.

According to the deal, doctors were to get between 150-180 percent pay rise on basic salaries; a review their working conditions, job structures, criteria for promotions and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

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