, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 28 – The industrial court has ruled that nurses have a right to form a union.
The court has also held that the nurses have a constitutional right to go on strike.
The ruling now bars the Permanent Secretary for Medical Services from victimising any nurse until the matter is fully heard and determined.
Justice Marete Njambi blocked the Medical Services PS and the Public Service Commission (PSC) from illegally transferring, interdicting, suspending, terminating nurses’ employment, or stopping salaries of nurses, saying they are exercising their constitutional right to assemble or demonstrate.
The concerned ministries and any other relevant officials have also been instructed to meet with officials of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) as presently constituted to resolve the dispute.
They are required to reach consent within the next seven days and report back to court on January 4, 2013 to confirm compliance.
The aggrieved nurses took the battle to court on Thursday, seeking to compel the Registrar of Trade Unions and the Medical Services Ministry to register their union.
The health workers in several public hospitals have been on strike for several weeks, putting them at logger heads with the Medical Services Ministry which is said to have withheld their salaries and threatened them with sackings.
The strike has been led by the unregistered KNUN and the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK).
Last week, Medical Services Minister Professor Anyang Nyong’o told Parliament that the striking nurses were abusing the right to industrial action since most of their demands including the allocation of extraneous allowances had been met.
He also argued the strike was illegal since the striking nurses were being led by unregistered associations.
The nurses have been fighting for the registration of a trade union, to be able to easily present various grievances and demands to the government.