Govt moves to stop KNH strike

December 23, 2008 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – The government on Tuesday said that it had identified resources to pay more than Sh292 million in salary arrears for Kenyatta National Hospital staff, to avert a strike scheduled for Wednesday.

Medical Services Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyiapi told Capital News that the hospital board met on Monday, and the decisions made would be announced on Wednesday by the Minister for Medical Services, Professor Anyang’ Nyong’o.

“We agreed on where to get the resources to pay the staff but more importantly we also discussed the long term issues on how to deal with this problem so that it does not keep recurring,” he said.

The unionisable staff had on Friday boycotted their duties, paralysing operations at the hospital, and threatened to go on strike if their grievances were not addressed.

Ole Kiyiapi said the money had accrued because there were no funds to pay them but denied that the arrears date back 13 months.

“What they are not telling you is that from July this year they have been receiving their full payment. They are earning what they should be earning and also immediately the deal was signed, they were paid some money. So when they talk about 13 months they are not completely being honest,” said the PS.

In April last year, the government agreed to give a pay rise to staff at the hospital. However they only earned the new figures for six months, before their pay went back down to their former salary.

This, according to the PS, was because the deal was signed in the middle of a financial year and there were difficulties in raising the funds.

However, from July this year, which was the start of a new fiscal year, their pay increment was once again been effected.

“They had assumed that money would be available immediately the deal was signed (last year) but this was not the case because it was already in the middle of that financial year. We sourced for money elsewhere so we were able to pay for the first few months. It was anticipated that we would get more money immediately which didn’t happen.”

He however concurred that if the issue had been prioritised in the budgeting process, there would be no arrears.

“But I also don’t know why it took this long. I don’t know whether the fault was with lack of budgeting from the Ministry headquarters or Treasury didn’t have the money or it was with the Kenyatta National Hospital, I don’t know where the problem was,” said the PS, who is new in the docket.

“All I know is that now we need to pay that money and we have identified how we are going to do it.”


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