, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 8 – Trouble is brewing at the Gertrude’s Children’s Hospital after doctors vowed to down their tools from Saturday morning.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) alleges that Gertrude’s Hospital had refused to allow its doctors to join the union.
KMPDU acting Secretary General Were Onyino said all avenues for consultation had failed, including a meeting earlier on Friday morning.
“KMPDU served the hospital with an extended 12-day notice to allow both parties to resolve this impasse amicably. Sadly the notice will expire at the end of the day (Friday) with no results. We therefore call on all our members to engage in strike action from Saturday. We also urge all doctors in Kenya to shun offering services to the hospital in the spirit of solidarity,” announced Onyino.
KMPDU chairman Victor Ng’ani accused the hospital of unfair labour practices, alleging that it altered the terms of employment for a doctor upon discovering that she was pregnant. Her terms were altered from permanent to a temporary contract, which expires around the same time she is due to give birth.
“We are not aware that being pregnant is a crime in the country. The discrimination on one of our doctors cannot be allowed. She should be given back her contract to serve the hospital as she should without being discriminated against,” countered Ng’ani.
But, the hospital through its Head of Clinical Services Thomas Ngwiri has said that the strike was already rendered illegal by the Industrial Court.
Ngwiri who was accompanied by the hospital’s human resource head Kowitti Achieng claimed that Gertrude’s was not opposed to the doctors joining the union.
He insisted that they will negotiate with the union through the Kenya Association of Hospitals, a position he said was supported by the Labour Relations Act
“The management of Gertrude’s would like to reiterate that we are not denying the doctors their right to join the union. We have offered them a solution and attempted to get an amicable resolution of the matter for the benefit of the innocent children who visit our facilities every day,” said Ngwiri.
He added that by withdrawing their services, the doctors will be in violation of the contract they signed with the hospital as well as the labour laws which prohibit employees in inessential services to go on strike.
Both Ngwiri and Achieng denied allegations that a doctor’s contract was retracted after she was found to be expectant.
“Gertrude’s employs about 700 staff half of whom are women of reproductive age. We do not have a discriminatory policy against them. If there has been a complaint we have not received it but we will address it when we see it,” insisted Ngwiri.
He assured that the facility will strive to maintain normal services at its main hospital in Muthaiga as well as in its eight satellite clinics.