Striking doctors to stay put, rules court
Posted Thursday, June 21 2012 at 16:23
A children’s hospital has been stopped from dismissing striking doctors until a court case is determined.
The High Court stopped Gertrude’s Children Hospital from sacking the doctors after a trade union seeking to be recognised by the management of the hospital filed an urgent case.
Omwanza Ombati, acting for the union, informed High Court Judge Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi that 72 doctors who are members of the union are facing imminent dismissal from employment.
Mr Ombati argued that the hospital was on the wrong because the doctors have a right to go on strike.
The lawyer also told the judge that the orders issued by the Industrial Court stopping the doctors from going on strike were illegal because the judges of the court have not taken an oath of office as required by the Constitution.
The doctors went on strike after the management of the hospital refused to recognise the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
The strike started on June 9 after the union instructed the staff who are its members to strike until the union is recognised.
Right to join trade union
The union is accusing the hospital of intentionally violating the constitutional rights of the employees by denying them the right to join a trade union and also to go on strike.
The Secretary General of the Union Were Onyino claims that the hospital is in the process of terminating the services of employees who have gone on strike.
The hospital's management has issued letters to the employees on strike asking them to show cause why they should not be dismissed.
The union is also asking the court to suspend orders obtained by the hospital’s management on May 30 stopping the employees from going on strike.
Also being challenged by the union are orders obtained on the second occasion by the hospital allowing it to start contempt of court proceedings against the union.
The dispute started in January 2012 after the union wrote to the hospital asking its management to sign an agreement recognising it as the trade union representing the employees of the health institution.
The hospital declined prompting the union officials to report the dispute to the Ministry of Labour but it was not resolved. The union subsequently issued a 12 day strike notice.
The case will be heard in the presence of both parties next Wednesday.