Revealed: Itumbi’s Facebook post stalled negotiations to end doctors’ strike

The ongoing talks between striking doctors and the Ministry of Health came to a stop on Monday after the Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President leaked details of the talks.

During the meeting, it was agreed that such agreements between the doctors and the government currently led by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) despite a gentleman’s agreement to maintain secrecy.

A source in the meeting said serial Facebook posts by the Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President Dennis Itumbi angered the doctors, bringing the discussions to a momentarily halt.

The controversial post by Itumbi (Facebook/Itumbi)

In the posts seen by The Nairobi Observer, Itumbi posted to the effect that the government and the doctors’ representatives had agreed on “everything in the CBA except the salary”. Itumbi was refereeing tov the highly disputed 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement, which doctors have vowed should be implemented.

“They want the lowest-paid doctor to get Sh221,000 and the highest-paid Sh940,000 (Plus allowances goes to Sh1.2m). GOK is actually offering to pay doctors way better than those in private hospitals,” he posted.

The salary demands posted on Facebook by the now controversial State House Digital communication team leader contradicts what is documented in the CBA. According to the CBA signed in 2013, doctors want the lowest-paid doctor, an intern, to part with a salary of between Sh325,000 and Sh342,770, a month and the highest-paid Sh852,180 to Sh946,000.

In a rush to beat the Wednesday deadline set by the Court of Appeal last week, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials on Monday held a closed-door meeting with government representatives.

The talks, which started Friday, were held in the presence of mediators drawn from the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

 Meanwhile, the main agenda of the mediation panel was the contentious 2013 CBA and a return to work formula.

 The 2013 CBA would give the doctors a salary increase and address their working conditions, internship, training and other labour relations issues.

A KMPDU response to Itumbi’s tweets. (Twitter/kmpdu)

 The government had maintained it would not register or implement the CBA because it was not within the Salaries and Remuneration Commission’s (SRC) guidelines for public servants.

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