Striking Doctors

The appeal court on Wednesday, February 15, granted freedom and ordered the immediate release of the doctors’ union officials who were jailed on Monday.

The doctors’ union officials were arrested and jailed on Monday with an order from Judge Hellen Wasilwa following the failure of the union to suspend the strike and engage in talks with the government.

The court sentenced the doctors to a one-month jail sentence for not complying with the initial court conditions.

See Also: Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Officials Jailed For One Month

Lawyers for the council of governors and Kenya medical practitioners; Pharmacists and Dentists Union have agreed to have the medics released immediately to continue talks with the government.

According to reports, the two parties agreed before the court of Appeal that negotiations aimed at bringing the two-month long doctors’ strike to an end will start on Thursday.

The parties agreed before a three-judge bench of Jamila Mohamed, Wanjiru Karanja and Hannah Okwengu in Nairobi on Wednesday.

The negotiation is expected to draft a return-to-work formula that will be presented to the court on February 23, 2017. To the doctors’ union, the implication is that they are to disregard the 2013 collective Bargaining Agreement and reach a consensus with the government via the negotiation.

The Council of Governors, through lawyer Eunice Lumallas, told the judges that they have reached the consent out of goodwill.

The consent presented by Lawyers for the council of governors and Kenya medical practitioners; Pharmacists and Dentists reads as follows;

  • The doctors’ officials will be released with immediate effect but with a 7-day ultimatum to negotiate with the government.
  • Both parties, the government and the doctors’ union will have to present a comprehensive report on February 23, with a view of bringing the strike to an end.
  • Law Society of Kenya and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights should lead the talks.
  • Matter to be mentioned on February 23

The court approved and recorded the consent and also allowed the Law Society of Kenya to join the case and mandated it to lead the talks together with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Also Read: Health Workers Across Kenya Begin Strike

Recall, the doctors’ union strike started on December 5 when the doctors started pushing for the approval of the 2013 collective Bargaining Agreement which includes a 300 percent pay rise and better working conditions for the doctors. The agreement was, however, seen as “illegal” and the court ruled against it.

In January, Justice Hellen Wasilwa sentenced leaders to jail for ignoring her earlier ruling but suspended the sentence to allow negotiations. Various negotiations between the Union officials and the government did not come to an agreeable conclusion.

On Monday, she ordered union officials arrested and sentenced them.

We are hoping that the 7-day window period will bring the 2-month strike to an end.

Many people which include CORD Leader Raila Odinga present during the court session frowned at the action taken by the court to arrest doctors’ union officials.

Speaking to the press after the court session, Raila said it was a shame for the government to have doctors’ union officials jailed.

He further called on Kenyans to consider leaders who uphold human rights.

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