The Employment and Labour Relations Court has given the doctors’ union officials another reprieve after suspending their jail sentence for a further seven days to allow for talks.
Justice Hellen Wasilwa delivered the judgement Monday morning following intervention from the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU), which promised to resolve the doctors’ impasse before one week elapses.
The seven Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials appeared on the dock awaiting their one-month jail term.
The officials have for 60 days since the doctors strike commenced maintained that they will not allow their members to resume duty until their demands are met.
“Although the intervening parties have been sitting back waiting for last minute to intervene, I welcome the move but will still exercise my discretion,” said Judge Wasilwa.
“I am giving the interventions a chance and I hereby order an immediate meeting to be convened under leadership of Dr Francis Atwoli and co-chaired by KNCHR officials,” she added.
Judge Wasilwa also directed that the negotiating team include other government agencies namely; the Council of Governors, the Auditor-General, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Labour, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Federation of Kenya Employers and the Public Service Commission.
She directed that each team shall be represented by not more than three officials and should report back to her within seven days.
“Do not take the court for granted and think that suspension is cowardice. We take everything for mercy and justice and I will deliver a ruling on Monday February 13,” said Ms Wasilwa.
Mr Atwoli assured the court that a solution would have been found within the extended period to bring an end to the impasse.
“This is a matter of a collective bargaining agreement that has so many clauses that have to be discussed word for word and not only a matter of the industrial court,” said Mr Atwoli during a press briefing outside the Milimani Law Courts.
“The resolve might even be today, tomorrow or any day before the seven days elapses.”
KMPDU had on Tuesday petitioned the National Assembly to intervene in their latest effort to resolve their countrywide strike.
Pay rise offer
KMPDU secretary-general Ouma Oluga raised concerns that both national and county governments have consistently refused to acknowledge the CBA entered into between the doctors’ union and the government in June 2013.
The doctors have remained defiant despite the government's 40 per cent salary increment offer, saying salaries are the least of their demands as outlined in the CBA.
Besides a 300 per cent salary increase, they are also asking the government to including annual training of specialist doctors, research funding and internship programmes.
The 40 per cent pay rise offer, which President Uhuru Kenyatta made to the doctors when he met their representatives at State House Mombasa early January, would see the least-paid doctor take home Sh196,989 monthly up from the current Sh140,244.
The pay increase includes allowances due to the doctors in various job groups.