Dr Davji Bhimji Atellah, National Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), addressed critical labour rights issues at this year’s International Labour Conference (ILC).

Representing a public sector union with 90% public and 10% private sector membership, Dr Atellah emphasized the shared challenges faced by medical professionals in Kenya and other countries.

He highlighted the parallels between Kenya’s struggles and those of Belarus, particularly regarding non-compliance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98 by their respective governments. In Kenya, this non-compliance has led to widespread demonstrations, often met with excessive force by the police. Dr Atellah recounted a recent 56-day industrial action demanding government adherence to a signed collective bargaining agreement.

Dr Atellah stressed the importance of ILO conventions in holding governments accountable for labour rights, collective bargaining, and workplace justice. He noted that the ongoing discussions at the ILC provide a crucial platform for governments to support these standards and improve their global standing by implementing agreements.

He also commended the ILC for facilitating meaningful dialogue, which allows public service representatives to present evidence of labour issues from various countries. This dialogue encourages governments to acknowledge the necessity of free association, negotiation spaces, and adherence to agreements.

While recognizing that implementing these agreements takes time, Dr Atellah concluded that the ILC discussions offer hope and relief to workers, urging governments to protect workers’ rights and comply with established labour policies.

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Evelyne Wanyonyi

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