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Doctors back in court as Atwoli reveals mediation talks failed

The parties were expected to appear once again before Justice Wasilwa and if a solution had not been found, they were to serve their sentences/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) will Monday morning give a Nairobi court an update of the talks seeking to end the doctors’ strike which is now in its third month.

The two organisations had been given seven days to mediate between the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and the government.

When he appeared before 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.

Justice Wasilwa welcomed the intervention and formed a committee headed by the COTU boss and co-chaired by the human rights commission to bring an end to the strike.

On Sunday, Atwoli however admitted that he had been unable to end the doctors’ strike, signalling a continuation of the protracted industrial action.

He blamed the prolonged industrial action on antagonism between Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri.

He stated that during the talks, it was discovered that there was infighting at the Ministry of Health that involved the two and this affected negotiations with the doctors’ union.

He blamed Muraguri whom he said was working with a section of the union officials to frustrate talks towards ending the strike.

The parties were expected to appear once again before Justice Wasilwa and if a solution had not been found, they were to serve their sentences.

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When appearing before the Senate Committee on Health, the doctors’ union officials agreed to compromise on their hard line strike position during talks set to start Wednesday with various government agencies.

This followed an appeal by the Senate Health Committee Chairman Senator Wilfred Machage (Migori) who urged the medics to soften their stance on the collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2013, which forms basis for their industrial action.

He had underscored the need for them not to be blinded by the document, which has been contested in court.

Machage also expressed concern that the strike was exposing Kenyans to quacks and illegal practitioners.

He also pleaded with the government to be ready to compromise on their hardline position.

The Health Ministry officials led by Cabinet Secretary Mailu and his Principal Secretary are expected to appear before the Senate Committee on Tuesday.


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