NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Striking doctors have remained defiant despite their officials receiving a one month suspended sentence from the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union reverted back to their hard stance on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2013 saying the only way they will go back to work is if it is implemented.
“Let me be very honest to Kenyans. You will wake up tomorrow and your hospitals will still be closed. You will wake up on January 26 and if the government does not implement the CBA, your hospitals will still be closed,” the Union’s Secretary General Ouma Oluga stated.
Oluga also took issue with the reference made by Justice Hellen Wasilwa that they were as ‘dirty as sewage’ due to their contempt of court and emphasised that they will not call off the strike.
“I do not think that for all the education that we went through anyone in this country deserves to call doctor sewage. That is extremely offensive. It is adding salt to injury,” he stated.
Oluga further described the judgment as flawed and declared that nothing short of the implementation of the CBA will make them go back to work.
“This time round, doctors shall not relent. We as the doctors of this country shall get options. However, the government has only one option, that is the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” he said.
He indicated that the Union’s officials were ready to go to jail and stated that nothing would change that fact within the two weeks they have been given to resolve the issue.
“In the month of March, we will give the best of medical services in all the prisons in this country. We shall do that because you cannot call people sewage and expect them to follow directions,” he stated.
He urged doctors to hold on as the union officials strove to iron out the issue regarding the CBA.
“Doctors, I know you have endured this journey. I know you have sacrificed your all and endured intimidations. We as doctors cannot come to an extent where we are so disrespected to a point that it goes to the courts,” he stated.
He assured them that they will not give in to any kind of intimidation as they fought for their rights.
“There is no amount of blackmailing doctors, there is no amount of abusing doctors or intimidation that we will take. Ours is very clear. We want that CBA and they will give it to us,” he said.
“We are poorly paid but we are not poor because we have brains. And to the Kenyans, for the last three years, you have lost 22,300 doctors who have quit because of these poor conditions.”
The judge ordered the officials to return to court on January 26th when she will review the progress made and confirm if the strike will have been called off as ordered.
This is after she gave them a one month jail term for failing to call off the ongoing strike as directed by court on December 1.
She termed their mitigation as insensitive to the plight of Kenyans because they have failed to call off the strike a month later, in total disregard of the court orders.
Justice Wasilwa further made it clear that the CBA signed in 2013 is null and void because it was not registered in court as required by law.