NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
The Kenyan ministry of health said on
Monday that it is committed to ending the doctors’ strike
despite jailing of union officials over contempt of court.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu regretted the jailing of
union officials earlier, but said it will not affect the
government’s resolve to find an amicable solution to the
"We are concerned by the industrial unrest in the health
sector and are open to dialogue with doctors and their union
representatives to end this impasse," Mailu told journalists in
Nairobi while clarifying that union officials’ one month jail
sentence was occasioned by contempt of court and not their
agitation for better remuneration.
More than 5,000 Kenyan doctors went on strike on December 5,
2016 over failure by the government to implement a 300 percent
salary hike deal signed in 2013.
The 68 day-old strike by Kenyan medics has paralyzed the
entire health sector while putting the lives of terminally ill
patients in grave danger.
Negotiations between the government and unions to end the
strike that have been ongoing since mid December are yet to bear
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Jan. 4 offered a 40 percent
salary increase to the striking doctors and urged them to honor
a return to work formula to end paralysis in the health sector.
Failure by the doctors’ union to end the strike prompted the
Council of Governors to file a case against them at the
employment and labor relations court.
A judge at the industrial court declared the doctors’ strike
illegal and ordered union officials to suspend it promptly. A
mediation team drawn from state agencies and the umbrella trade
union body tried to negotiate with Doctors’ union a return to
The negotiations collapsed last week after union officials
insisted the state must implement the comprehensive bargaining
agreement (CBA) in full before calling off the strike by medics.
During her ruling on Monday, Judge Hellen Wasilwa of the
employment and labor relations court pronounced a one month jail
sentence to seven Doctors’ union officials for ignoring a court
order to suspend the strike.
The jailing of senior officials from Kenya Medical
Practioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) drew
condemnation from doctors who vowed to suspend talks with the
government until their bosses were set free.
The doctors appointed a stand in committee to handle their
affairs as they await release of the jailed union bosses.
However, the temporary committee has no powers to negotiate
for the salary hike with the government on behalf of doctors.
As doctors vowed to hold a night vigil in the prisons where
their union officials were incarcerated, the government
maintained it was open to dialogue to end a health sector
paralysis that has claimed dozens of lives.
Mailu disclosed that senior echelons of government will be
involved in the latest efforts to end the doctors’ strike.
"As a government we have always pursued a return to work
formula with doctors to restore critical services in the health
"The court’s judgment will not affect ongoing talks with
their unions to end the strike," said Mailu.
At the same time, the health cabinet secretary urged doctors’
to drop hard-line positions and settle for perks that can be
implemented in phases.