Monday, 13 February 2017

Kenya court jails doctors' union officials over strike

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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