Kenyan judge orders officials from doctors’ union to be jailed

A Kenyan judge on Monday ordered that officials from the national doctors’ union be jailed for one month amid an ongoing strike over pay and conditions in public hospitals.

“This court decides to resume its order sentencing the applicants to a one month jail term,” Justice Hellen Wasilwa said.

Doctors in public hospitals have been on strike since Dec. 5. The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union had previously warned that doctors in private hospitals might also strike if union officials were jailed.

Union officials were not immediately available for comment.

Medics, wearing white gowns and surgical caps, blew whistles and angrily chanted in the street as word of the ruling emerged.

The union, which has about 5,000 members, wants the government to implement a deal agreed in 2013. It was to give doctors a 300 percent pay rise; review their working conditions, job structures and criteria for promotions; and address under-staffing in state hospitals.

Kenyan university lecturers are also striking over pay. Resolving the strikes will be a key test of president Uhuru Kenyatta’s leadership ahead of national elections scheduled for August.

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