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Why mediation talks to end long health crisis failed

Adam Wachu, Bishop Alfred Rotich, Rev Julius Guantai, Jackson Ole Sapit at the supreme court during a mention of the doctors case. (Photo: George Njunge/Standard)

Hardlines, insincerity, lack of commitment, and bad blood between doctors and their employer caused the collapse of mediation talks to resolve the health crisis, The Standard can report.

A report by mediators from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) filed at the Court of Appeal revealed that none of the parties was willing to cede ground, leading to a walk out by representatives of the government and the Council of Governors.

“A stalemate remained after many rounds of talks and as late as Wednesday, the doctors’ officials wished to present a revised proposal for consideration but the government and the Council of Governors declined, resulting in disagreement over key issues in the dispute,” the report said.

Among the key issues that mediators John Ohaga (LSK) and Kagwiria Mbogori (KNCHR) could not help resolve were salary and allowances, training and promotion, recognition agreements, the 2013 CBA, and the commencement date of a new one.

The report captured the bad faith and suspicion that characterised the two-week talks, with each side accusing the other of taking advantage of the situation to force an agreement.

The government accused the doctors of taking advantage of their strike to force a resolution of the dispute in an unfavourable manner, while the medics accused their employer of taking advantage of their jail sentence to frustrate the talks.

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Appellate Judges Martha Koome, G.B.M. Kariuki, and Jamila Mohammed are treating the report as a preliminary one to give religious leaders, who had offered to continue with the talks, a chance to resolve the dispute.

The Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) asked the court to give it two days to finish what the LSK and KNCHR mediators had started. The clerics promised to file a progress report in court on Tuesday.

IRCK was represented in court by Anglican Archbishop Jackson ole Sapit, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary Sheikh Adan Wachu, Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Rt Rev Julius Mwamba of PCEA.

“We have been meeting the parties in the past three days and we are about to reach the epitome of an agreement. We believe we will be able to resolve it within two days and present to the public the fruits of the talks to end the stalemate,” Mr Wachu said.

 

Whereas the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union officials had scaled down their salary demands from 300 per cent to between 150-180 per cent, the report showed that the government stood its ground on offering 40 per cent, which would see the lowest paid doctor paid Sh224,236 a month and the highest paid Sh609,906.

According to the report, the union stated that the current basic salary and total package offered by the government were unacceptable and required further enhancement.

“The union also maintained that doctors who undertake duties outside their study hours be compensated and that the government establish a scheme for appropriate compensation,” said the report.

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