Kenyan public service doctors reject no-private-work clause

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Public service doctors in Kenya have removed a contentious clause barring them from private practice in a document filed recently in court, says a Daily Nation report. The doctors version of the return-to-work formula (RTWF) struck off the clause, which reads: “All medical doctors,

The doctors version of the return-to-work formula (RTWF) struck off the clause, which reads: “All medical doctors, pharmacists and dentists shall strictly adhere to their terms of employment in regard to engaging directly or indirectly in any other gainful employment and/or private practice as a partner, employee, consultant, director, manager, agent, associate or otherwise.”

The report says they also want the government to be compelled by law to pay them the three months salaries and arrears since 5 December last year, when they went on strike. Their lawyer Philip Murgor said that the clause that was expunged from the document filed in the Court of Appeal was “unconstitutional and discriminatory”. He argued: “Even a messenger can have a side business.”

He said everything else in the document was agreeable to the doctors and that he hoped the government will sign the document today and end the 100-day strike.

The report said Appellate judges Hannah Okwengu, Martha Koome and Jamilla Mohammed had earlier given the parties a last chance to allow the doctors to sign the document. “In light of the urgency and because of public interest, we are ready to give mediation a chance since poor Kenyans are suffering,” they said. “We are willing to bend backwards.”

The report says despite worrying that the talks had gone on for too long, the doctors pointed out that various issues had already been resolved. But, they added: “Doctors are not able to go back to work because the RTWF has not been agreed on. Governors are ready to look at it but the (Health) ministry says it is no longer interested in negotiating.”

The report says that according to the judges, the real issues that forced the doctors to go on strike had not been resolved and hinted at the possibility of referring the dispute to the Employment and Labour Relations Court. “We appeal to all parties, including the ministry, to be guided by best interest of Kenyans, who are suffering for lack of public healthcare, put differences aside, their egos too,” the judges ruled.

Daily Nation report

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