Kenya court jails doctors’ union officials over strike

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Kenya court jails doctors' union officials over strike
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Kenya court jails doctors' union officials over strike
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A Kenyan court on Monday jailed seven union officials for a month over a doctors strike that has crippled public hospitals for 10 weeks.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa at Kenya's labour court had handed down suspended sentences to the officials a month ago after they ignored an earlier court order to end the strike.

Jailing them for contempt of court, the judge said they had provided no reason for the punishment to be deferred.

"The applicants have not demonstrated to court any new and compelling issue, or pointed out any mistake or error apparent on the record, or any sufficient cause that would warrant review of the court's order," Wasilwa said.

The seven officials were handcuffed and driven to jail past placard-waving supporters gathered outside the court.

The nationwide strike involving thousands of doctors and nurses began on December 5 and has left public hospitals closed and patients unable to get basic medical care.

Doctors have rejected a government offer of a 40 percent rise saying it falls short of promises made in a 2013 agreement. Staff shortages and a lack of equipment have also failed to be tackled.

Kenyan university lecturers have also been on strike since last month over pay.

The widespread, disruptive industrial action comes months before an August general election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta hopes to win a second term.

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  • Marcus Ijele

    Penny wise, pound foolish. If their going on strike crippled medical services, should then consider jailing them a panacea to the situation? Would they be attending to patients from jail? If they come out and refuse to refuse to go back to work, can the Judges become Doctors? Stupid African mentality, as if the Judges do not go on strike and cripple Judicial system.

  • Barr. Miss Chigozie Ifeoma Nwa

    Sending them to jail is not the immediate solution to this problem. Immediate replacement of the Doctors will take some time too. The right to Strike is a fundamental Right of Employees, with exemption of those providing essential services. And to be candid, Medical Personnel fall into this category, not only in Nigeria, but in Kenya too. However, the Kenyan and other responsible Governments should always ensure that at least, sixty percent of their needs are met while provision of Health Facilities should be met by at least, seventy percent. I cannot really blame them for going on Strike, especially if their needs have been neglected for so long, but they ought to know that striking for too long would lead to loss of lives of many sick people, and that definitely must be the major reason, or at least, a part of the reason why they were given a jail sentence. For those who must have died, let the Kenyan Government compensate their Families. However,the fact remains that when a Strike Action is made to last for too long, the overall aim gets defeated. – Barr. Miss Chigozie Ifeoma Nwagbara, LL.M, Law Author & Lecturer, Polac, Wudil.