News24

Kenyan doctors call off strike

2011-12-13 12:26

Nairobi - Kenyan doctors have called off a week-long strike demanding better pay, after the country's leaders pleaded with them to end the industrial action that left many patients unattended, a union official said on Tuesday.

At least 2 300 members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union stopped work after the government said it could not meet their demands for a 300% pay increase. The doctors at state hospitals say their terms haven't been looked at for more than a decade.

"We have called off the strike so that top union officials can negotiate with the government. I have made an appeal to the striking doctors to go back to their work after the government assured us there will be no victimisation," Boniface Chitayi, the union's secretary general, told Reuters by phone.

"We intend to start fresh negotiations with the government tomorrow (on Wednesday)."

The doctors, who say they earn an average of 35 000 shillings ($390) a month, are the latest public sector workers to demand higher pay as living costs soar. Inflation jumped to almost 20% in November, up for the 13th straight month.

During Independence Day celebrations on Monday, President Mwai Kibaki urged the doctors to resume work and directed his minister of public service to conclude talks.

Frustration has been mounting at the high cost of food and fuel in particular in the east African nation, which holds a general election next year, compounded by a collapse in the value of the local currency against the dollar.

Demands for higher pay by workers coupled with increased spending in the run-up to the election have stoked concerns of a second round of inflationary pressures.