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Kenya Doctors Call Off 100-day Strike


FILE - Doctors and other medical staff protest the detention of their union leaders, outside an appeals court in Nairobi, Kenya, Feb. 15, 2017. A court released seven doctors who were officials in the medics union; they had been jailed earlier in the week for not calling off a strike by doctors working in public institutions.

The Kenyan doctors union on Tuesday called off its 100-day strike after reaching a deal with the national and county governments.

The union and officials signed a deal on a return-to-work formula and agreed that a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2013 would be renegotiated in the next 60 days. The CBA covers doctor salaries, welfare programs and improved health facilities.

Union Secretary General Ouma Oluga signed the deal and told reporters afterward that in the wake of the protracted negotiations, the health sector needed stability.

"We are happy that the doctors union have finally put an end the strike," Oluga said. "While the strike is over, the dispute may not be, because we need to restore industrial harmony between ourselves and our employers. ... We know that the return-to-work agreement is simply an agreement and there is a lot of follow-up that will be done."

The other issues that will be discussed concern how the doctors will be working with county governments and the amended collective bargaining agreement.

Less of a pay raise?

With the amendment to the CBA, it looks unlikely the doctors will get the 180 percent salary increases they have been fighting for.

The country's health minister, Cleopa Mailu, expressed regret for the long crisis in medical care.

"Kenyans have suffered, and I am quite sure we cannot in anyway begin to fathom the extent of the pain which the ordinary Kenyans felt during those 100 days," Mailu said.

Peter Munya, governor of Meru state and chairman of the council of governors, said the parties involved were not sincere enough in their efforts to find a solution. He said he hoped that issues still to be discussed could be approached in good faith, "because what has been lacking in the whole exercise was good faith. That's why we took so long, more than three months. A strike could have been handled and ended a long time ago."

Starting Wednesday, Kenyans will be able to get services in more than 2,000 public hospitals as the parties engage in negotiations on the remaining issues in the CBA.

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