NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 7 – Almost, but not quite there yet, is where things stand on day 93 of the doctors’ strike.
Religious leaders who on March 2 were allowed to participate in the negotiations reported back to the Court of Appeal on Tuesday that while, in their view, the stumbling blocks to a resolution had been moved out of the way, it was now up to the parties involved to carry the ball the rest of the way to the finish line.
And as though to wash their hands of the whole affair, were keen to make the point that, “we that religious leaders here below signed believe that we have delivered on our mandate. We therefore leave the matter to the court discretion for further directions.”
There was indeed talk of just off-white smoke from the parties on Tuesday whose main point of contention it appeared, was the order of documents to be signed.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union through lawyer Philip Murgor made it clear that they would not be calling off their strike until a Collective Bargaining Agreement is signed. “That is the contractual agreement.”
The Council of Governors and office of the Attorney General, representing the national government, were however insistent that the doctors first call off their strike as a show of good faith given they have all this time, been, “negotiating under duress.”
Thereafter they said, a Collective Bargaining Agreement could be entered into as early as in 10 days, which led Presiding Judge Martha Koome to question why the parties couldn’t just go ahead and dispense with the CBA right away, earning herself a unanimous shout of ‘Yes’ from the doctors present.
The judges ultimately decided to give the parties another few days to reach a settlement, setting the next court date for Monday under special circumstances given the Appellate court was not scheduled to sit next week. “But we’ll ask the President (of the Court of Appeal) to constitute a bench.”
The doctors’ union committed to the court that they were happy to go back to work as soon as today and even make their way to the devolution conference in Naivasha – where the governors are gathered – as long as a revised and amended CBA is entered into.