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DOCTORS STRIKE: Union officials spend first night in city jails

Seven doctors’ union officials spent their first night in prison on Monday for defying a court order to call off the nearly three-month-old nationwide strike.

The men were sent to Kamiti prison and the women to Lang’ata after Labour Court judge Hellen Wasilwa ruled that the court would not consider reviewing the one-month prison sentence for the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union officials.

The jail sentence was passed on January 12 but suspended, to be reviewed. And despite acknowledging that talks aimed at ending the strike — which is on its 73rd day — had been ongoing, the judge ignored pleas to spare the officials.

“They have not explained why they chose to obey part of the court order and failed to call off the strike as said,” said Justice Wasilwa. “Court, therefore, declines to have that sentence reviewed.”

FAULTED UNIONISTS

During the tense court proceedings, the judge repeatedly faulted unionists Samuel Oroko, Ouma Oluga, Daisy Korir, Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro for failure to table in court documents to show progress of the talks that have been going on since February 3, when she spared them from going to jail for the third time.

Even attempts by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights seeking time to present to court documents on the negotiations were futile.

“It is not in the interest of any party, and especially this court, to prove to do things that are likely to aggravate the situation,” said Mr Suyianka Lempaa for commission.

“We are pleading for more time to bring to this court a return-to-work formula.”

Their lawyer Edgar Washika explained that all material involving the negotiations were with the commission.

He said the team tasked with leading the talks had met until 1am the previous night and were hopeful of a solution.