Court gives doctors, Health ministry until Tuesday to end strike

The Court of Appeal has said it will not mediate negotiations to end the doctors’ strike if parties do not reach an amicable solution by Tuesday morning. The countrywide strike is on its third month.

Doctors union officials, through their lawyer James Orengo, presented their return-to-work formula to the Council of Governors on Monday.

But CoG lawyer Eunice Lumala said they needed time to go through the document and make a decision. The three-judge bench led by Justice Maartha Koome asked parties – doctors, church leaders and the Health ministry – to deliberate and agree on the contentious issues and return-to-work formula.

“This is a matter of urgency. We need to move with speed because the public is watching. We don’t want them to think the court is to blame,” Koome said.

“We appreciate efforts that have been made by various parties to mediate. We are however concerned and disappointed by the slow pace at which the matter is proceeding,” justice Hannah Okwengu said.

The court had said they were ready to mediate in the spirit of public interest although the Labour court was to handle the CBA and return-to-work formula. But Okwengu said it was intervening for the last time, adding that should the parties fail to reach a consensus by Tuesday morning, it will refer the matter to the Labour court.

“We appeal to all the parties, including the Ministry of Health, to be guided by the best interest of Kenyans and put aside their differences and egos and give religious leaders a chance to help find a solution to this matter,” she said.

Okwengu asked lawyers representing the parties to prevail upon their clients to resolve the matter before they appear before the court in the morning.

“Should the matter not be resolved by tomorrow, parties should note that this court shall not mention it anymore but will refer it to the Labour Relations court that still sits on the substantive issues,” Okwengu said.

Okwengu said the Appeals court will thereafter only be left with making a decision on the committal proceedings currently before the court.

The decision came after lawyers representing the government, Council of Governors and doctors failed to agree on whether the court should convene next Monday to give directions on the CBA and the return-to-work formula.

 

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