Nairobi — The Industrial Court on Monday extended orders prohibiting health workers in public hospitals from going on strike until December 24. The order comes after the Attorney General through his representatives Paul Ojwang and Peter Ngugi applied for extension of the barring orders saying that they were unable to serve the Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Kenya Health Professionals Union, Seth Panyako (Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General), Matendechero Sultani (KMPDU Secretary General) and Moses Lore - who are listed as respondents in the case - because it was a public holiday.
The Industrial Court last Wednesday issued an injunction prohibiting the strike and directed that all parties in the matter be served with the suit papers. The government had declared December 13 a national holiday as part of a three day celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of Kenya's independence.
In Monday's ruling, the Industrial Court said the AG should serve all parties within seven days before an inter-partes hearing to be held on December 24. The AG wants the strike declared illegal and the health workers ordered to resume duty immediately. The AG argues that allowing the strike will go against the Constitution.
The health workers are protesting a move by the Transition Authority to devolve heath services to counties.
However, the AG's representatives argue that devolution is provided for in Schedule Four of the Constitution and the arguments by the health workers are therefore illegitimate.
"We are arguing that medical services are essential services and they must be devolved in accordance with the Constitution," the officers the AG's chambers contended.