NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) says it is ready to continue mediating in the talks between doctors and government in a bid to end the strike which is now in its third month.
Speaking during a press conference on Monday, KNCHR Chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori indicated that by the time the doctors’ union officials were being jailed, good progress had been made with 90 percent of issues having been ironed out.
She further stated that as late as Sunday, the parties had acceptable draft recognition agreements drawn up to guide the talks.
“COTU and KNCHR remain engaged and committed to the process in line with agreements so far reached by all parties involved. We the mediators are committed to working with the respective parties to find an amicable solution,” she stated.
“We are therefore clarifying that the mediation table remains active and the overnight meetings remain until there is white smoke.”
She further stated that the time given was limited and a lot more would have been accomplished had they be given more time.
“We recognise that frustrations during the mediation process can occur especially in processes that have limited time resolution periods. Thus the effect in such cases is an opportunity to voice the same for greater understanding,” she said.
Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa had given the Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary General Francis Atwoli and the KNCHR seven days to mediate the talks and end the strike.
Following their failure to bring an end to the impasse, she ruled that the seven Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials found guilty of contempt of court for failing to call off their strike should begin to serve their month-long sentences.
Justice Wasilwa gave the order after finding that the strike was still in force.
Following the ruling, doctors plan to hold month long vigils in solidarity with seven of their top union officials who were jailed.
KMPDU Nairobi Branch Secretary General Thuranira Kaugiria stated that the vigils will be held at the Lang’ata Women’s and Industrial Area Prison.
The seven officials now in jail are the KMPDU Chairperson Samuel Oroko and Secretary General Frederick Oluga. Others are Titus Ondoro, Allan Ochanji, Hamisi Chibanzi, Daisy Korir and Evelyne Chege.
Atwoli who had offered to act as a mediator in the talks admitted at the weekend that he had been unable to end the doctors’ strike, signalling a continuation of the protracted industrial action.