Kenya- A judge in has ordered officials from the national doctors’ union to be jailed in the middle of a strike in public hospitals that has turned into a test of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership on Monday.
According to Reuters truckloads of riot police took up positions as the doctors blew whistles and chanted angrily in the streets on Nairobi.
Reuters said that Justice Hellen Wasilwa ruled that the strike was illegal in December 2016.
In January 2017, she sentenced leaders to jail for ignoring her earlier ruling, but suspended the sentence to allow negotiations.
However on Monday, she ordered the union officials arrest.She said,” This court decides to resume its order sentencing the applicants to a one-month jail term”.
Reuters continues by saying that the union which has about 5,000 members who want the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013 to give doctors a 150-180 percent pay rise on basic salaries.
The doctor also wants the government to review working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions and a address under-staffing in state hospitals.
But the government responded by saying that it can only afford a 40 percent pay rise.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union had warned that doctors in private hospitals might also strike if union officials were jailed.
Corruption scandals have also been reported including an investigation into millions of dollars allegedly missing from the Health Ministry.
The strike has also affected patients nationwide. Kenyan media has reported that patients have died during the strike.
KMPDU officials arrested, start month long jail sentence
The Labour court has sentenced doctors union to one month in jail after they failed to call off their strike. http://ow.ly/pOkU308WJwWPosted by The Star, Kenya on Monday, February 13, 2017
Doctors in public hospitals have been on strike since Dec. 5 over pay and conditions ahead of August elections.
Reuters adds that University lecturers are also striking over pay, deepening the political crisis ahead of the elections in August when Kenyans choose their next president, members of parliament and local governors.