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Circus continues as doctors’ union jail reprieve extended by 7 days

Wasilwa had handed the union official the sentence after failing to call off the strike as directed by the court pending negotiations to end the strike/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 3 – The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials once again escaped serving their one month sentence following the intervention of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) which requested for seven more days to intervene and resolve the strike which is now in its second month.

Appearing at the Employment and Labour Relations Court‘s Justice Hellen Wasilwa, COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli requested that the organisation be included in the negotiations saying there was global pressure for the strike to be resolved and that Kenyans were suffering.

“As an authority in Industrial Relations practice in this country and globally, kindly give us more days and I have asked specifically seven days, we shall endeavor to make sure that we reach a solution. I want to thank you once again and state that we are aware of what Kenyans are going through and that is why we have taken it upon ourselves to get involved,” he stated.

Atwoli expressed confidence that a solution will be reached within a period of seven days.

“My Lady, COTU houses experts in industrial relations practice just like the Ministry of Labour and that is why we are appealing that within these seven days, we will be in a position to reach a solution if we base it on trust and compromise. I am sure we will be able to report to this honorable court a solution that will have been reached by parties,” he said.

He called on everyone involved to be patient as the matter was being handled.

“I just want to appeal to Kenyans at large that now as COTU including those who are involved in this particular dispute to be patient, we will endeavor to reach a solution to this matter. This is a purely industrial relations mater and that is why we are here and it should be viewed that way,” he stated.

“I for one I am a bad loser and would not want losing so I will try day and night to make sure that we have reached a solution and therefore kindly my lady suspend this sentence with a view of reaching an amicable solution to this matter.”

The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) also requested to be included in the process urging the Court to suspend the sentences further.

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Justice Wasilwa welcomed the intervention and formed a committee headed by the COTU boss and co-chaired by KNCHR to being an end to the strike.

“Because I have been invited into it, I have been asking for an invitation and it has never come. Today I have been invited to try and resolve this issue. Those are the agencies I have stated whom will be included in this meeting and I give you seven days,” she stated. “If Mr Atwoli you let me down because I have listened to you, I will proceed because the ruling is ready and I will deliver it on Monday February 13.”

Other members of the committee include the Council of Governors, the Attorney General’s office, Doctors’ Union officials, the Finance Ministry, the Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Finance.

The parties are expected to appear once again on February 13 and if a solution is not found by then will serve their sentences.

The Senate has also summoned top Health Ministry officials over the strike and stated that Parliament is ready to act as an arbitrator between the ministry and doctors’ union officials.

READ: We’re ready to arbitrate, Senate says as it issues doctors strike summons

Senate Health Committee Chairman Wilfred Machage explained that the legislators will be seeking to establish the progress made so far in the pay talks that appear to have stalled since December.

He indicated that Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri will personally face the committee on Tuesday next week to explain the steps taken so far to get the doctors back to hospitals.

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The committee also summoned officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) who are required to appear before it on Wednesday.

He stated that the Council of Governors will have to appear before the committee as they also played a big role in addressing the concerns of doctors.

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