NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) now wants to be enjoined in proceedings at the Court of Appeal where litigants in the contempt case against Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials are seeking to overturn the jailing of seven union leaders.
LSK President Isaac Okero said they want to facilitate resumption of dialogue as the sentencing of union leaders by Lady Justice Hellen Wasilwa of the Employment and Labour Relations Court on Monday serves as an impediment to the negotiation process.
“The LSK shall be making an application to be enjoined in proceedings pending before the Court of Appeal as amicus curiae so that we are able to make presentations in court with a view to enable dialogue to resume,” Okero said during a press briefing Monday afternoon.
While maintaining that it was the position of the LSK that court orders have to be obeyed, he said the jailing of union leaders undermines negotiations and risks exposing members of the public in dire need of medical attention to untold suffering as the three-month strike continues.
“Court orders are sacrosanct, once they’ve been made even where there may be need to question them, it is the legal responsibility of every person that such orders are obeyed,” he said.
Dismissing claims that LSK had taken a back seat since the threat of jail was made against KMPDU officials, Okero said LSK had engaged the parties through its team of mediators and had in fact offered to mediate in order to end the stalemate.
“We will continue to offer the services of our expert mediators to try and facilitate fruitful discussions and the eventual determination of this crisis,” Okero noted.
KMPDU officials serving a month-long jail term are Chairperson Samuel Oroko, Secretary General Frederick Oluga, Titus Ondoro, Allan Ochanji, Hamisi Chibanzi, Daisy Korir and Evelyne Chege.
Lady Justice Wasilwa handed the seven suspended sentences a month ago but gave them full effect Monday after latest negotiations by the Central Organization of Trade Unions failed.
COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli has since blamed union officials for their hardline positions saying they refused to heed to his advice to accept the 40 percent pay rise by the government and push for a better pay in the future.