Raila reacts after doctors are jailed

Doctors officials at the Milimani labour court during their sentencing. They will serve one month in Jail for contempt of court. COLLINS KWEYU

Doctors officials at the Milimani labour court during their sentencing. They will serve one month in Jail for contempt of court. COLLINS KWEYU

A Kenyan Labour court has jailed officials of the doctors' union for contempt.

A court had ruled that the strike was illegal in December and in January, Wasilwa sentenced the union leaders to jail for ignoring her earlier ruling.

"This court decides to resume its order sentencing the applicants to a one-month jail term", she said.

She had asked top chiefs of Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to call off their job boycott, now on its 72nd day, and engage the government in talks.

Doctors downed their tools to push the government to implement the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) they signed in 2013 that, among others, sought to improve their salaries and working conditions in public hospitals.

With more than 5,000 doctors striking, the already dilapidated public health system has all but collapsed and private hospitals have been inundated.

The officials of the medical union will remain behind bars for the next 30 days.

"The arrest has been sugarcoated for contempt of court but we know the real reason is that they have been jailed for leading the strike which is within their right", said Dr. Masika.

But National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale claimed Raila is "perfecting the art of scapegoating, lamenting and blame game" as he detailed unsuccessful efforts by the Government to end the strike.

Resolving the strikes will be a key test of president Uhuru Kenyatta's leadership ahead of the country's elections scheduled for August. Odinga said he was "horrified, disturbed and shocked" at the sentencing and said it marked "the lowest point that Jubilee's intransigence, incompetence and inability to lead has brought the nation to".

The doctors are demanding implementation of a deal reached in 2013 that would enact a 150-180 percent pay rise.

He said that CORD lawyers have been instructed to immediately convene and take up the doctor's case against the government.

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