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Doctors' union officials face jail for contempt

 Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharamasists and Dentists union (KMPDU) Members Daisy Koris (National treasurer), Oluga Ouma (Secretary General) and Oroko Samuel (National Chairman) accompanied by Union Members adress the press. (Photo: Antony Gitonga/Standard)

The doctors' union officials could be sent to jail for one month for defying a court directive to call off their strike.

Industrial Court judge Helen Wasilwa on January 12 gave the officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) 14 days to call off the strike. The window period expires on Wednesday.

If they fail to call off the strike, they could be arrested from wherever they will be and whisked to jail.

Some of the officials facing the jail term are Secretary General Ouma Oluga, Chairman Samuel Oroko, Treasurer Daisy Korir, Deputy Treasurer Evelynn Chege, Deputy Secretary General Mwachonda Chibanzi and Vice Chair Allan Ochanji.

But the officials yesterday said the Government was yet to show any willingness to honour their demands as stipulated in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to allow them call off the strike.

Last week, the union held closed-door discussions with Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu.

And now, both parties are accusing each other of spreading propaganda and engaging in sideshows at the expense of the suffering Kenyans.

"The Government only showed up for two days during the discussions with the last being on Wednesday. Since then, we have not heard from them and we do not have any invitation for a meeting this week," said Dr Oluga.

He said during the talks, they had tabled seven different ways for the Government to implement the CBA.

And the ways, he said, were carefully structured and spaced to ensure minimal or no heavy impact on the country's budget.

"We saw last week the Government releasing Sh54 billion for teachers. What doctors want is just Sh8 billion," said Oluga, speaking at a church in Komarock where the officials had gone for prayers.

He added: "We are already aware of the sentence hanging on our necks, because of our fight for a better health-care system. If that is what will take to improve the situation, then so be it, we are ready. We are actually the victims here."

In a bid to sanitise itself, the Government accused the medics of engaging in sideshows.

"It is apparent that the doctors' union has engaged sideshows and use of diversionary tactics to frustrate the efforts and intentions by the Government to resolve the current impasse," said Dr Mailu.

The CS said the doctors had pressed on with industrial action declared illegal by the courts and had gone ahead to reject the Government's offer of a 40 per cent pay rise.

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