, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 1- The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) on Friday obtained a court order blocking the implementation of the controversial new National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) rates.
High Court Judge Jean Gacheche issued a temporary injunction blocking the government from implementing the higher rates after COTU filed the case.
COTU wants the gazette notice that gave effect to the new deductions quashed, claiming that it was punitive and was made without consultations from stakeholders.
"This evening our lawyer has succeeded in obtaining a stay order against the gazette notice issue by the Medical Services Minister directing the deductions from workers salaries from this month. The case will be heard on November 24," COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said at the trade union\’s headquarters.
Meanwhile, Mr Atwoli has threatened strike action if the new rates are not revoked.
"A strike is a strike; it\’s not for us to say whether we will sustain it. It is the government and the employers who won\’t sustain, they will call us at midnight (to dialogue) because we are street fighters, we don\’t live in luxury, those who live in luxury are the ones who will give in first," he said.
Mr Atwoli added: "We have the will, the power and the support and we will succeed.
The government maintains the proposed premiums would benefit members and assist the government achieve universal healthcare.
"It is not your responsibility as a worker to shoulder the burden of treating Kenyans. That is for the government. If you are contributing to a scheme, it should take care of you. NHIF\’s core responsibility is taking care of the contributor not my grandmother who doesn\’t make contributions" said Mr Atwoli.
The revised rates will see Sh2,000 being deducted monthly from Kenyans who earn over Sh100,000, translating into a 500 per cent rise.
Those earning between Sh50,000 and Sh99,000 will contribute Sh1,500 monthly, a 368.7 percent increase, while those earning Sh5,999 and less will pay Sh150.
Currently, all workers pay a mandatory monthly premium of Sh320.
The order to effect the new rates was issued last week. In agreeing with NHIF in his ruling Industrial Court Judge James Rika said the proposed premiums would benefit members and assist the government achieve universal healthcare.
COTU had alleged that the health insurer had neither shown how an increase of between 500 and 600 percent was arrived at nor demonstrated the benefits derived from the increase.