Seven doctors’ union officials have been sentenced to serve a one month jail term for contempt following a Monday morning ruling by the Employment and Labour Relations Court.
Justice Hellen Wasilwa delivered the judgement after the additional seven days she gave the mediating parties to solve the doctors’ impasse elapsed.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials, who were present at the dock, and the negotiating parties represented by their lawyers pleaded for more time to finalise talks but the judge would hear none of it.
The seven are KMPDU secretary general Ouma Oluga, Samuel Oroko (chairman), Daisy Korir (Treasurer), Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibanzi and Titus Ondoro.
Justice Wasilwa had last week directed that a negotiating team, led by COTU's Francis Atwoli, should include government agencies such as 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 in the process.
The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) and the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) had volunteered to resolve the doctors’ impasse before one week elapses.
Mr Atwoli however said the talks had failed, blaming infighting between Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and the Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri for failing to reach a deal with doctors.
"Dr Muraguri is not committed to ending the strike but instead seems determined to use the strike to settle an apparent score with Dr Mailu," he said on Sunday.
Due to the failure to reach a deal, Justice Wasilwa today lifted the suspension of a one-month sentence that had been issued in January after KPMDU officials failed to comply with the court's conditions.
Meanwhile, doctors are calling for the resignation of CS Mailu and Dr Muraguri in the wake of the judge's ruling, insisting that they will not engage in talks until the seven union leaders are released.
Additional reporting by Lynette Mukami