‘Do not try to implement doctors CBA’: Kenya Council of Governors warn the GOVT

The Council of Governors (CoG) issued a caution to the Kenya Kwanza government on April 16, 2024, advising against the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) inked with doctors in 2017. During a press briefing held in Nairobi, the governors emphasized that honoring the 2017/2021 CBA could potentially trigger a financial crisis for the nation.

Anne Waiguru, the Chairperson of CoG and also the Governor of Kirinyaga, articulated concerns that adhering to the doctors’ CBA might set a precedent for other county employees to demand similar treatment. Waiguru underscored that should the national government yield to pressure and opt for implementing the doctors’ CBA, the counties would not be party to such an arrangement.

Expressing appreciation for the court’s “Whole of Nation Approach” directive aimed at resolving persistent industrial unrest in the health sector, Waiguru asserted the autonomy of both national and county governments as independent employers, rendering the directive impractical.

Waiguru elaborated, stating that any national government agreement to implement the CBA would necessitate a corresponding increase in the basic pay of all civil servants, demanding additional resource allocations for all counties.

Downplaying the doctors’ demands for improved pay, Waiguru argued that health practitioners in the country are currently well remunerated. She highlighted that senior medical doctors receive 103% more pay compared to non-health workers in the public service and other doctors in the private sector.

Providing specifics, Waiguru indicated that a County Senior Medical Officer currently earns Ksh.479,000, comprising a basic salary of Ksh.203,000, alongside various allowances including emergency call, house, commuter, non-practice, extraneous, and risk allowances.

Consequently, the governors urged the striking doctors to return to work and end the strike, emphasizing their role as duty bearers. They expressed concern over the suffering and, in some tragic instances, loss of life due to the unprotected strike and highlighted the doctors’ failure to comply with the court directive. Additionally, they reminded that the Constitution designates doctors as essential workers, underscoring the expectation for them not to abandon their duty stations.