KMPDU Resolves to Establish a Unified Return to Work Formula Amid Court Threats

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Amid a looming ultimatum from the Employment and Labour Relations Court, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has announced plans to establish a unified Return to Work Formula (RTWF) within the next 48 hours. 

This decision follows a series of failed negotiations and escalating tensions between the union and government officials.

In a statement released on Monday evening, the KMPDU addressed the pressing challenge posed by the court’s ultimatum, citing the importance of sincere commitment from both parties in resolving the ongoing dispute.

 “While this directive presents a pressing challenge, it is not insurmountable if both parties demonstrate sincere commitment to the process,” the statement from KMPDU chair Abidan Mwachi read.

The impasse between the doctors’ union and the government reached a critical point last Friday when the KMPDU withdrew from the ‘Whole of Nation Approach’ talks. 

Governor Wailes Ahmed Abdullahi and Council’s Health Committee Chairperson, Muthomi Njuki, signing return-to-work agreement, May 3.

Photo

Koskei

Controversy erupted as national and county governments, which stated that they had reached agreements on 17 of 19 issues raised by the doctors, signed a return-to-work formula without the involvement of the doctors’ union, further exacerbating tensions.

Expectations that a return-to-work formula would be reached and deposited in court by Monday morning were not met, prompting the Labour court to issue a caution to the parties involved.

Justice Ongaya of the Labour Court warned that if a return-to-work formula is not agreed upon, the court will intervene and make a decision. “Parties at liberty to file and serve soft and hard copy submissions by noon 08.05.2024,” Justice Ongaya stated.

KMPDU chair Abidan Mwachi pointed out the importance of acknowledging areas of mutual agreement between the doctors and the government, despite the complexity of the situation. 

“Our Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) stands as a cornerstone of our negotiations, holding sacred importance as the guiding principles that shape our stance,” Mwachi affirmed.

With the strike now entering its 56th day, the KMPDU called for prioritising the well-being of the healthcare system, healthcare workers, and patients. The union urged constructive engagement to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.

However, amidst the ongoing dispute, the government has threatened to divert funds allocated for medical interns to address other pressing issues, such as floods. 

Felix Koskei, Head of Public Service leading the ‘Whole of the Nation Approach’ talks, warned of potential actions to compel doctors to return to work or to hire new medical personnel.

“As we are depositing this agreement, we are going to petition the court to allow us to take any necessary action to alleviate the problem,” Koskei stated.

As the clock ticks towards the court’s deadline, both the KMPDU and government officials are under increasing pressure to reach a consensus and end the prolonged healthcare crisis gripping the nation.

An undated image of former CS for Agriculture Felix Koskei in a past event

Capital Group



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