Seven officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) have been sentenced to 30 days in jail for their refusal to call off the strike.
Labour and Employment court judge Hellen Wasilwa delivered the sentence after previously suspending it twice to allow doctors union officials carry out negotiations with the government.
Justice Wasilwa noted that the doctors were unwilling to negotiate thereby trying to intimidate the court and leaving it with no other option.
During her ruling on Monday, she said:
“Negotiations will take place but you will serve your sentence after contempt of court.”
“I gave the sentence on conditions but the conditions have not been met to date. Interventions will proceed after my ruling.”
KNCHR lawyer Vincent Lempaa attempted to save the doctors saying they had made progress with negotiations before asking for a further suspension of the ruling.
“I want to see proof that negotiations are progressing. Show me the documents,” Wasilwa requested.
Lempaa failed to provide documents supporting his statement.
A previous intervention by KNCHR and COTU earned the doctors union officials a seven-day window to conclude negotiations.
Justice Wasilwa agreed on that occasion but warned that her patience would run out on the expiration of that time frame.
The prosecutor and Council of Governors lawyer Eunice Lumalias urged the court to proceed with its ruling saying the doctors had not resolved the deadlock.
“Nobody has more time. Let’s proceed with the issue of contempt,” said Lumalias.
Following the decision, the judge reminded the medics that they have the right to appeal the ruling in the Court of Appeal.
The Doctors are pushing to approve the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement which includes a 300 percent pay rise and better working conditions.
The agreement was, however, declined by the government which declared it illegal since it was not registered before the Industrial and Labour Court and the government representative who signed the deal had no right to do so.