The labour court has jailed officials of the doctors’ union for contempt.
Judge Hellen Wasilwa on Monday lifted the suspension on the one-month sentence she had imposed on the officials when they failed to comply with the court’s conditions.
She had asked top chiefs of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Unions (KMPDU) to call off their job boycott and engage the government in talks.
On Sunday, the talks that were being mediated by Cotu and KNCHR seemed to have hit a dead end, with Cotu boss Francis Atwoli admitting that he had failed.
On December 20, the Employment and Labour Relations Court found KMPDU Chairman Samuel Oroko, Secretary-General Ouma Oluga and others guilty of contempt after they ordered their members to boycott work on December 5.
The other officials are Daisy Korir, Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro.
They were handcuffed and led to the Industrial Area Prison in Nairobi soon after the tense court session.
Justice Wasilwa’s judgement followed a suit filed by the Council of Governors, which had obtained a court order stopping the industrial action that entered its 72nd day on Monday.
The judge had suspended the sentence on two occasions to give KMPDU and the national and county governments time to end the impasse.
Doctors downed their tools to push the government to implement a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they signed in 2013 that, among others, sought to improve their salaries and working conditions in public hospitals.
But the government rejected the CBA, with governors saying they were not involved in the 2013 deal though they employ 80 per cent of doctors after the health services were devolved.
The Senate Health Committee recently told doctors to abandon the CBA and gun for a new one because it was signed by Mark Bor, a permanent secretary it said had been demoted two days earlier.
The jailing of the official now deepens the crisis that has gripped health facilities across the country, with poor patients bearing the brunt of the two-month paralysis.
©Alleastafrica and Daily Nation