The government has lost patience with the slow pace of talks to end doctors’ strike and ordered that the medics resume duty immediately.
President Kenyatta was in Naivasha to officially open the conference.
The president and the county bosses directed county service boards and the Health ministry to take disciplinary measures against all doctors who would fail to heed the order to resume duty.
The leaders of the two levels of government also withdraw a Sh14.5 billion enhanced package that they had offered the medics as they vowed to protect doctors who will resume work.
The enhanced offer came with a 50 per cent pay rise among other benefits.
Failure by doctors to accept an additional Sh600 million offered by the government led to the drastic action.
“This additional offer was on condition that the doctors call off the strike and report to work today (Tuesday) morning,” they said in a joint statement read by Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya.
“Consequently, as a result of the doctors failure to call off the strike, the government has now rescinded this offer and there will be no further negotiations on remuneration.”
The leaders said each individual doctor, pharmacist and dentist within the public service would now have to negotiate with their particular employer, be they national or county government.
The government, they said, would also review registration and certification of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, with a view of reverting its functions to the Health ministry of health.
“Every doctor swears a solemn oath that they shall not do harm. Continuing with this illegal strike in the face of enhanced government offer which is at the very edge of affordability and sustainability is to betray that solemn oath,” said Mr Munya.
Describing the strike as illegal, the governors and the President said they had made strenuous efforts to amicably resolve the industrial action up to late into the night on Monday.
Mr Kenyatta, a number of governors and religious were involved in the talks only for the doctors to turn around and rubbish the efforts.
Consequently, the government has now directed that doctors who have been on duty receive the offer of new allowances with effect from January 1, 2017.
“Those doctors who are on strike and are willing to return to work are expected to resume duty at their respective duty stations with immediate effect,” said the statement.
All post graduate medical students sponsored by the government were directed to report to their duty stations with immediate effect while interns were ordered to report to their internship centres to complete their training.
“The national and county governments and all other employers in the public health centre, to continue and conclude disciplinary process being undertaken against absconding staff in order to facilitate filling of vacancies that may be left as a result of this disciplinary action,” the leaders said.
Hours earlier, Mr Kenyatta had accused the health workers of blackmailing the government into giving into their demands, which he said were impossible to meet.
But the leaders steered clear of the ongoing court process to end the strike that has left in its wake thousands of poor patients dead.
Reported by Njeri Rugene, Caroline Wafula and Dave Opiyo.
NAIROBI The Kenyan government on Tuesday ordered striking medical staff to return to work and said it had withdrawn an offer of a 50 percent pay hike after the workers’ union became inflexible in their negotiations.
It had offered the increase on condition the union called off the strike. “Consequently for failure to call off the strike, the government has now rescinded this offer and there will be no further negotiations,” it said in a statement
Doctors were expected to “resume duty …with immediate effect”.
The strike, which began in December, has provoked anger among Kenyans and put pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government ahead an election in August.
The doctors’ union, which has about 5,000 members, wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013 to give them a 150 to 180 percent pay rise.
That agreement also called for a review of working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions and address under-staffing in state hospitals.
The lengthy stand off between the doctors and the government has seen some union officials serve short jail terms after being found guilty of contempt of court in relation to the strike.
Opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has blamed the government for failing to resolve the pay disagreement.
The statement, jointly issued by both the central and local governments, accused the doctors of refusing to heed a court order that declared the strike illegal and of impeding efforts by various mediators to resolve the impasse.
“Due to the hard-line position of the union, which position has not moved an iota since last year, all these efforts have failed,” the statement added.
One union official, Mwachonda Chibanzu, told Reuters they had no immediate comment on the order for them to resume work.
(Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; editing by John Stonestreet and Toby Davis)