Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida) has gone to court in a bid to resolve the ongoing nurses’ strike.
In the case filed under a certificate of urgency, the organisation argues that the two-month-old strike continues to cause suffering among Kenyans, many of whom cannot afford health services in private clinics.
“Fida-Kenya takes specific issue with how the respondents have allowed the strike to prolong with no hope of calling it off.
“It is worse that leaders have taken more interest in the elections campaigns than resolving this public pandemic,” reads the statement issued by chairperson Josephine Mongare.
She said the government owes it to its citizens to strike a balance between protecting their fundamental right to life while upholding the freedom of workers to go on strikes.
The strike, she added, further erodes the gains made by the free maternal health policy.
The organisation wants the Employment and Labour Relations Court to declare that nurses and doctors have a right to strike, but this right should not supersede the right to life.
The petition adds that the government needs to safeguard against suffering and death during strikes and lockouts by health employees.
It also says all trade unions in the health sector must adopt measures that allow some of their members to continue working before strike notice are issued.
Fida wants an order compelling parties to complete and sign the collective bargaining agreement for nurses and have it filed in court within seven days.
The petition also seeks an order directing the Attorney-General to draft legislation to address strikes in essential services, especially in the health sector, to ensure that services are not crippled by strikes in the future.
“The Bill should be tabled in Parliament within 90 days of the order,” the petition reads.
The Kenya National Union of Nurses called the strike on June 5 and efforts by the Council of Governors and the government to resolve the impasse have hit a dead end.