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Monday, March 27, 2017

[VIDEO] Doctors' union officials jailed one month for contempt of court

Doctors' union officials handcuffed after judge Hellen Wasilwa sentenced them to one month in jail for defying a court order to end their strike, February 13, 2017 ./COURTESY
Doctors' union officials handcuffed after judge Hellen Wasilwa sentenced them to one month in jail for defying a court order to end their strike, February 13, 2017 ./COURTESY

The Labour court has effected its month-long jail sentence for doctors union officials after their refusal to call of their strike.

Trial Judge Hellen Wasilwa ordered the doctors to end their strike that started on December 5, 2016 or go to prison for one month.

But the health workers wanted the court to suspend the sentence to pave way for talks.

"Negotiations will take place but you will serve your sentence after contempt of court," Wasilwa said in a ruling on Monday.

"I gave the sentence on conditions but the conditions have not been met to date. Interventions will proceed after my ruling."

She noted that parties were unwilling to negotiate but that the court could not be intimidated.

Officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Denstists Union at the Milimani Labour court during their sentencing for contempt of court, February 13, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU

Council of Governors lawyer Eunice Lumalias said judge could not delay the ruling any longer.

"Nobody has more time. Let's proceed with the issue of contempt," she said.

The KNCHR commissioner said they had made progress and asked the judge to further suspend the ruling.

But he refused to show Wasilwa documents supporting his statement.

"I want to see proof that negotiations are progressing. Show me the documents," Wasilwa had said.

Read: Inside the striking doctors’ 2013 collective bargaining agreement

Officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Denstists Union at the Milimani Labour court during their sentencing for contempt of court, February 13, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU

A last minute intervention by Cotu and KNCHR had earned striking doctors seven more days for negotiations.

Cotu secretary general Francis Atwoli and the rights group pleaded with the judge to offer the doctors and the government a seven-day window to strike a deal.

Wasilwa agreed but warned that her patience had run out. She warned that she was unlikely to extend the suspension upon failure to reach an agreement by today.

Read: Atwoli intervention hands doctors union another 7 days for talks

A riot policeman stands guard as doctors chant slogans after their case to demand fulfillment of a 2013 CBA was heard at the Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi, February 13, 2017. /REUTERS

Doctors are demanding the fulfillment of a CBA signed in 2013 that includes a 300 per cent pay rise and better working conditions.

Working conditions subject to review include job structures, criteria for promotions and the under-staffing of medical professionals in government hospitals.

Doctors have also accused the government of failing to stock public hospitals with basic medicines and supplies of items such as gloves.

But the Collective Bargaining Agreement was declared it illegal since it was not registered before the Industrial and Labour Court.

Doctors took it to court for registration last year, but justice Monica Mbaru ruled that their union had to negotiate a new one with the Health ministry, Salaries and Remuneration Commission and the counties.

Counties now employ nearly 90 per cent of doctors but were not involved in the 2013 CBA.

Read: Oluga explains 'unfortunate' 65-day doctors' strike to Senate

[VIDEO] Court suspends doctors' jail sentence, gives 5 days to call off strike


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