The final report on the negotiations to end the 93-day-old strike by doctors in public hospitals will be presented in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday even as sources privy to the talks say “they are far from over” but are hopeful of “white smoke”.
This follows a series of closed-door meetings over the weekend that ran until Monday evening, when the doctors’ union officials met with religious leaders.
Present from the Inter-religious Council of Kenya were Catholic Church head John Cardinal Njue, ACK Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Sheikh Adan Wachu and Lodwar Catholic Bishop Dominic Kimengich.
As he left the venue of the meeting at around 3pm Monday, Cardinal Njue said he was “hopeful that the talks will come up with something”. The words were echoed by Bishop Kimengich, who added that they were “seeking divine intervention to get to a solution”.
The court gave the parties two days to agree after mediation talks led by the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights failed to break the stalemate.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) team had the chairman Samuel Oroko, secretary-general Ouma Oluga, and his deputy, Dr Mwachonda Chibanzi, as well as the treasurer, Dr Daisy Korir.
It is also understood that the talks were hampered as “some of the decision makers were attending (former Nyeri governor James Nderitu Gachagua’s) funeral in Nyeri”.
This will add to the litany of hiccups that has characterised efforts to resolve the deadlock between the union and the government. Most recently, the talks were adjourned due to a deadlock largely attributed to “frustration and dismay” on the part of the doctors as the government refused to improve the offer it had given to them.
The stumbling blocks in the current round of talks have been the effective date of collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the government pushing for July 2017 and the union stuck on June 2013, when they signed it. The doctors also turned down a 40 per cent pay raise offer in January.