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Kenyan private doctors to strike after colleagues jailed

15 February 2017

Kenyan university lecturers have also been on strike since last month over pay.

Doctors in public hospitals have been on strike since December 5 to protest working conditions in public hospitals, among other issues.

While delivering the ruling, Justice Hellen Wasilwa said the doctors' application has no merit.

The 5,000-member doctors' union wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013 to raise basic salaries by 150 to 180 percent, review working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions, and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

Officials from a union that represents doctors were jailed on Monday for contempt of court after they refused to call off the public hospital strike, which has entered its third month.

Talks between the government and the Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) collapsed over the weekend. Jailing them is actually stalling the negotiations to end the strike.

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Doctors have rejected a 40% salary rise, saying it falls short of a 2013 agreement.

"Rather than resolve the crisis in the health sector, the jailing of union officials deepens it and sets an extremely risky precedent", said opposition leader Raila Odinga. Now doctors earn an average basic salary of $400 to $850 per month compared to a Kenya legislator who earns almost $14,000 a month.

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.

"Instead of leading in dialogue to end the doctors' strike, the Principal Secretary is in Nyeri wooing people to register as voters", said Atwoli. Public sector medics have been on strike since early December 2016. "The government needs to make an offer that would be acceptable until that happens", he said. A series of corruption scandals - including an investigation into millions of dollars allegedly missing from the Ministry of Health - has bolstered support for the doctors.

"This is the most corrupt government we have in history", said Githongo, charging that the government has the resources to pay doctors, but officials are diverting the funds.

Kenyan private doctors to strike after colleagues jailed