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Doctors’ union officials appear not to be in charge, CS Rotich says

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary (CS) Henry Rotich on Thursday said doctors’ union officials appeared not to be in charge.

Mr Rotich said he chaired a one-day meeting with the union officials in Mombasa where they agreed to take a 40 per cent pay rise.

He was speaking before the joint parliamentary committees on labour and health and said that the officials requested for two days to consult their National Executive Committee.

“The officials agreed to the government offer, in which also 95 per cent of the collective bargaining agreement on doctors training and infrastructure in the hospitals was agreed. But after two days they came back and said the executive committee had declined the offer,” the CS said.

He spoke on Thursday as the Court of Appeal extended by a week mediation talks aimed at resolving the strike stalemate, which enters its 82nd day on Thursday.

Mr Rotich said the government was willing to address the doctors’ grievances, but only under a new agreement.

He urged the doctors’ union “to bring to the negotiation table people who are capable of making decisions on behalf of the doctors.”

“All along we believed that we were negotiating with the right people but apparently the decisions they make are not binding. Every time they go to consult, they negate on agreements reached,” he said.

The blame game has become the hallmark of the protracted labour dispute.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union officials accuses the government of lacking good faith.

On Thursday, Appeal Court judges Fatuma Sichale, Hannah Okwengu and Kantai ole Sankale gave the mediation team time to finalise the negotiations.

“In the first place, we are happy with the progress and we are grateful to the mediators as well as the parties involved. It is necessary to give them an extra seven days to explore resolution of the outstanding issues,” they ruled.

The judges asked the mediation team to feel free to file a report before the court and seek an early date before the court in the event they agree before the seven days.

‘CERTAIN ISSUES’

“We are mindful of the fact that there is a lot of suffering in the public health service and that certain issues need to be resolved as soon as possible,” the judges said.

The mediation team was represented in court by lawyers for the doctors’ union.

The Council of Governors opposed to the request for extra time arguing that the union was not serious.

They said the extension should be for two days only.

On February 15, judges Okwengu, Wanjiru Karanja and Jamila Mohammed, released from prison seven union officials pending their appeal on jail sentence.

Labour Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa sent them to jail for a month for disobeying a court order issued last year which stopped doctors from boycotting work.

WERE PRESENT

Union officials Samuel Oroko, Ouma Oluga, Daisy Korir, Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro were present in court on Thursday. They all spent two nights in jail.

 John Morris Ohaga, Njeri Kariuki, Kagwiria Mbogori and Mr James Mang’erere have been leading the mediation.

The mediation is between the Council of Governors, the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

The case will be mentioned on February 30.

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