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Medics’ deal untenable, MPs told

The deal struck between the doctors’ union and the government in 2013 was fraudulent, therefore making it untenable.

A former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Sanitation, Mr Mark Bor, told the National Assembly’s joint committee on health and labour he signed the Collective Bargaining Agreement after he had left office.

The deal is at the centre of the strike that is on its 81st day.

The chairman of the labour committee, Mr David Were, declared Mr Bor a hostile witness and ordered him out of the sitting after he failed to come clear on whose authority he was acting then.

“The committee will look for recourse on how to deal with you,” Mr Were said.

Mr Were is Matungu Member of Parliament and co-chairs the joint committee with Kitui South MP Rachael Nyamai

“You have taken a lot of our time but you have said nothing, he told Mr Bor.”

Mr Bor told the MPs there had been a standing committee that was negotiating the agreement between the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and the Ministry of Health.

“There was no Ministry of Health but that of Medical Services and of Public Health and Sanitation,” Mr Bor explained. “I was only PS in the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.

“There were two ministers, assistant ministers and PSs, who were all in the negotiations.”

Mr Bor is currently the chairman of the Board of Management of the Kenyatta National Hospital. He said he acted on the plodding of the PS in the Ministry of Health — who came into office after the 2013 elections after the merging of ministries into a leaner Cabinet.

“I had left office, since there was a new government in place and new appointments,” said Mr Bor. “But Prof (Fred) Sigor told me, ‘Mr Bor, don’t leave before owning this thing,’” Mr Bor said.

He added that he signed the agreement on the basis that it was a “transitional document” to be amended on being registered.

Mr Bor however found himself at the centre of the storm when MPs demanded to know who gave him the authority to sign the document and whether he was under the orders of Prof Sigor and Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, who were in office.

Others who appeared before the joint committee poked holes into the agreement. They included Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri, Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya, Public Service Commission chairperson Margaret Kobia and Salaries and Remuneration Commission chairperson Sarah Serem.

Earlier, the doctors’ union officials, secretary-general Ouma Oluga, chairman Samuel Oroko and treasurer Daisy Korir, insisted that they would not negotiate “outside the CBA”.

LACK OF GOOD FAITH

They accused the government and other stakeholders of “lack of good faith”.

Said Dr Oluga: “The industrial dispute is still ongoing owing to frustrations the doctors have faced from the other side.

He said they wanted the registration and implementation of the agreement, which addresses issues raised by doctors. These include the strengthening of health systems, improvement of terms and conditions of work and increased budget allocation to the health services.

Ms Korir accused unnamed ministry officers of employing “tribal profiling” of the officials to scuttle the talks.

The issue was also raised by Aldai MP Cornelly Serem, who said the composition of the union national office did not reflect “the face of Kenya”.
‘Total stranger’

Dr Muraguri said the collective agreement cannot hold since it was signed by an unauthorised officer and the council of governors was not involved yet health was devolved when it was signed in June 2013.

Mr Munya called for its trashing and fresh talks based on good faith and not an “illegal document signed by a total stranger”.

Prof Kobia said the PSC had noticed some gaps in the CBA but decided to make reference to it given it had some “useful aspects” to improve the health sector.

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