Kenya judge gives ultimatum to doctors union over strike

January 12, 2017 12:00 pm

The file photo shows Kenyan doctors treating an injured man at a hospital in Nairobi. (Via AFP)

A judge in has issued an ultimatum that the heads of the doctors’ union will be jailed if there is no end to a strike that has crippled public hospitals in the country for more than a month.
This came after a Kenyan court handed down a one-month suspended jail term to seven union officials over a doctors’ strike which has crippled public hospitals for the last 40 days, AFP reported.
Judge Hellen Wasilwa said if the doctors did not end the strike and return to work within two weeks, seven union officials would “be arrested and taken to jail,” media reported on Thursday.
The one-month suspended jail term comes after the government threatened to fire all the striking doctors if they had not returned to work by Wednesday, but it failed to carry out that threat.
The strike by the 5,000-strong Kenyan doctors’ union over wages has devastated public health services in the country, where few can afford private medical care.
The government had offered to increase the wages of the medics by 40 percent last week.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), however, rejected the offer, demanding the full implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which guaranteed a 300-percent raise and other improved conditions.
After detention, “we will give the best medical services to the prisons in this country,” said the union’s secretary general, Ouma Oluga.
Kenya’s newspapers have taken sides with the medics, urging the government to give the poorly paid doctors more.
Kenyan doctors regularly migrate to other countries, where salaries and working conditions are relatively better.
The strike has put pressure on President Uhuru Kenyatta in the run-up to August elections, in which he hopes to win a second term in office.
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