Kenya: Leaders of striking public sector doctors jailed one month

Nairoby – A judge in Kenya has handed a one-month sentence to leaders of the doctors’ union in the country amid an ongoing strike over pay and service conditions.

”This court decides to resume its order sentencing the applicants to a one month jail term,” Justice Hellen Wasilwa is quoted to have said.

Judge Wasilwa had in January handed a suspended one-month sentence with the caution that if the doctors did not call off the strike within two weeks, their officials would “be arrested and taken to jail.”

“The duty of physicians is to preserve and protect life. There are a lot of people who die here and I do not think that a collective-bargaining agreement is more important than the lives of many Kenyans,” she said at the time.

The medics last month rejected a 40% pay rise offer from the government, demanding the full implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement.

Public sector medics have been on strike since early December 2016. The current action comes despite a threat by the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Association, that doctors in the private hospitals might also strike if union leaders were jailed.

Reuters reports that medics wearing white gowns and surgical caps, blew whistles and angrily chanted in the street as details of the ruling was relayed to them. The country’s healthcare system had been hardly hit by the current crisis.

The union, which has about 5,000 members, wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013. It was to give doctors a 150-180 percent pay rise on basic salaries; review their working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions; and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

Source: Angola Press News Agency