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Nairobi court directs State and doctors to end strike

By Paul Ogemba | Updated Tue, March 14th 2017 at 00:00 GMT +3
Lawyers Philip Murgor and James Orengo, who are representing the doctors on strike. The court directed the disputing parties to soften their stand so the doctors could return to work. [PHOTO: GEORGE NJUNGE/STANDARD]

The Court of Appeal has directed the Government and doctors to resolve their differences and save suffering Kenyans.

Appellate judges Martha Koome, Hannah Okwengu and Jamila Mohammed said they were not happy with the slow pace of resolving the dispute and hard-line stance taken by the parties involved - the Government, doctors and the Council of Governors (CoG) - despite the court giving them enough time to negotiate.

"We are concerned and so disappointed that doctors have not gone back to work while the Government is adamant that they will not return to the negotiating table. It is the poor Kenyans who are suffering and dying because they cannot access medical care," said the judges.

The judges gave the Ministry of Health, CoG and Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) one final chance to enter into an agreement failing which they would refer the dispute back to the Employment and Labour Relations Court.

They directed the Government and governors to look into a return-to-work formula prepared by KMPDU and filed in the court with a view to agreeing to sign it and end the stalemate.

HARD-LINE STANCE

Under the formula, doctors abandoned their hard-line stance and agreed to end the three-month strike if the Government and the governors signed it.

Through lawyers James Orengo and Philip Murgor, the union submitted that they were acting in good faith to see normalcy return to the health sector and urged the Government to show the same commitment.

"The return-to-work formula is a sign of commitment from doctors that they want to go back to work. We believe it has taken care of all interests and just a confirmation of all that was agreed during the negotiations," said Mr Orengo.

The union proposed that all county governments shall within seven days adopt a recognition agreement prepared during the mediation process, and that an amended collective bargaining agreement reached during the negotiations should be signed and registered in court within two weeks.

They also want all doctors to be placed in appropriate job groups as per the agreed revised scheme of work, and that no disciplinary action should be taken against those who participated in the strike, including the union officials.

"There shall be no victimisation and the employers shall unconditionally stop disciplinary processes and withdraw all show cause letters," said the union.

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